Cars and buses have been excluded from rules governing when election signs can begin popping up around Tauranga - effectively opening the way to permanently signwritten cars.
The council yesterday ruled in favour of the five candidates who have used their cars and a bus to begin advertising themselves well before the September 14 date when election signs were officially allowed on to city streets. But a warning shot has been fired across the bows of the two candidates who have parked their signwritten cars on the sides of busy roads.
Council chief executive Garry Poole said candidates' cars would be towed away if they broke the bylaw that stopped any vehicles carrying advertising from parking on roadsides for the purpose of advertising.
The council voted 8-1 with two abstentions to exclude vehicles from the election sign definitions of hoardings, posters, signs and other "similar types". The policy did not refer specifically to vehicles.
Councillor Murray Guy, whose car has featured a small election sign, led the debate in moving that vehicles be excluded from the rules governing when election signs could appear. He said cars had inadvertently been captured in the policy which was aimed at managing the proliferation of unsightly roadside signs.
Councillor Terry Molloy reflected the views of most councillors when he said they were simply giving some clarity to the situation around the policy.
Councillor Bill Grainger, who abstained from voting, said candidates would be mad not to take advantage and plaster their cars with elections signs well before September 14.
The other councillor to abstain, Larry Baldock, referred to the rules forbidding advertising signs on private property. "A motor vehicle is private property, surely you cannot display signs on motor vehicles."
The only councillor left voting against the move was Tony Christiansen who warned that if the council did not put a line in the sand on signs it would carry on being a total shambles.
"Forget about it being a car, this is election advertising. It is pretty naive to say it isn't."
Mr Poole said the council should agree to exclude signs on vehicles.
It was a new policy and what had emerged were issues around election hoardings on vehicles that were not parked up. He highlighted the local Members of Parliament and the election candidate whose cars carried permanent signs.
Councillor David Stewart said he could see both sides of the argument, saying he was concerned where candidates flouted the rules to get one up on their competitors.