You are currently viewing ‘Undesirables’, Vibe not vibing in Thames survey
The Create the Vibe pedestrian space in Mary St, Thames. File photo: KELLEY TANTAU

‘Undesirables’, Vibe not vibing in Thames survey

Thames town centre has been labelled as “tired” and “unfriendly” with concerns about intimidation by “undesirables”, a recent survey shows.
However, many respondents said they loved the town’s historic feel, saying it was “quaint”, “vibrant” and “inviting”.
The Visitors’ and Residents’ Survey, conducted by the Thames Business Association, received nearly 300 responses. It asked for people’s reasons for being in Thames, their impressions of the shops, eateries and attractions in the area, and suggestions for improving the town centre.
Several major issues were highlighted by the survey responses. One was an “intimidating” feeling in the town, with many respondents pointing to the rising visibility of “undesirables” along the main streets and in Goldfields mall.
“I am greeted with filthy homeless people hanging around our town. Shops are boarded up from ram raids and vandalism. Our town doesn’t feel safe anymore at all,” one respondent said.

“It’s so embarrassing to have a town centre full of people yelling, screaming, swearing and intimidating people,” another said.
Possible solutions suggested in the survey were to increase the police presence in the town, or move the Baptist Church food bank away from Pollen St. Some who completed the survey were also keen to improve the shopping experience in Thames, calling for longer operating hours and a spruce-up of shop exteriors.
“Everything in the town is closed by 7 or 8pm,” one respondent lamented, while another said it was “only open limited hours, especially during long weekends”.
However, many felt the town could become a real destination with a little bit of work.
“Some of the shops are quite rundown,” one respondent said; “needs a paint,” said another.
The Create the Vibe pedestrian space in Mary St also drew concerns.
“It’s a wasted space and looks terrible,” one response said, another saying, “it just attracts undesirable community. Including alcohol, drugs and yelling”.
Some respondents were in favour of the Vibe, but said it would work better in a different location.
“Mary St Vibe space is in the wrong place. Having a pedestrianised area is a great idea but more suited to Grahamstown,” they said.
“We lost count of how many people asked for the Vibe to be removed or Mary St reopened,” Business association general manager Sue Lewis O’Halloran said.
“And Pollen St’s looked tired for a while, I think that most people would tell you that, particularly because we haven’t had major investment in the infrastructure or anything for a really long time.”
Sue said she was impressed by the responses.
“They were thoughtful and in many cases, positive and encouraging, or contained practical advice,” she said.
“People are passionate about this town … they want to see it tidied up and looking smart, and ready to welcome visitors,” she said. “We are different from other towns on the peninsula because we are actually a provincial/service town and that’s a slightly different role … we need to learn to celebrate and promote those differences.”
Thames Coromandel District Council has also conducted its own survey on the future of the Vibe. The survey, which closed on June 25, received more than 1400 responses and results will be presented to the Thames Community Board on August 2.