Residents ‘fear’ of speaking out against sex workers

FED UP: Manchester St resident Russell Craigie wants sex workers to move away to a more appropriate location. PHOTO: Geoff Sloan.

Some residents living on Manchester St fear reprisals if they speak out against sex workers in their neighbourhood.

Since the February 22, 2011, earthquake, sex workers have moved north of Bealey Ave, due to the city centre being red-zoned and historic ties to the street.

Resident Russell Craigie moved into the area three and a half years ago and has a city council-installed security camera in front of his property.

The city council placed the camera on the corner of Manchester and Purchas Sts in July to deter antisocial behaviour.

But Mr Craigie and other residents say it appears sex workers stand under it for protection, increasing the noise and rubbish outside homes.

“There are not many people who want to speak out for the fear something may happen to them,” Mr Craigie said.

He said a neighbour was asked by sex workers to move his truck a few months ago so they could be more visible.

When he refused the truck was vandalised.

Mr Craigie described some of the more disturbing things he had witnessed since he moved in.

“I once stepped in a big pile
of s**t around the side of my house, then put my boots inside without realising. It was horrible,” he said.

He removed flax bushes around the front of his property after finding several pimps hiding in them watching the sex workers.

“It’s not the place to be conducting a commercial activity . . . if I wanted to sell sausages on the side of the road I would need to get a permit, this is no different,” he said.

Another neighbour, who did not want to be identified, said he will be interested to see if any action is taken by the city council.

It is meeting to review the Public Places Bylaw next year and will look to include specific wording around sex workers in residential areas.

A woman spoken to by the Nor’West News, who did not want to be named, said she had only moved into the area about five months ago and didn’t notice the sex workers much at night.

“If the camera is making it safer for them, then I am happy with that,” she said.

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