Tight restrictions are to be imposed on where Tauranga City Council candidates can put their signs.
Instead of saying where candidates were not allowed to put signs, the council yesterday agreed by the narrowest of margins to define the roadsides where signs would be allowed.
It took the casting vote of chairwoman Bev Edlin to resolve the issue after the council was locked 5-5. It agreed only one sign per candidate would be allowed on each of the 31 roadside strips around the city.
Councillor Steve Morris supported the rules that applied to the 2013 election, saying that getting approval for every site would be resource intensive.
Councillor Bill Grainger agreed, saying, "I think we are going a little overboard here."
He warned that a large number of signs in each area was ridiculous and would generate more complaints than having signs scattered throughout the city. It should be up to candidates where they put their signs.
"Let people use their initiative," he said.
This led to Councillor Matt Cowley moving to limit the number of signs at each location. This was won by a vote of 7-3, once the main issue had been resolved on whether to restrict the signs to defined locations. Opposing were Kelvin Clout, Rick Curach and Catherine Stewart.
The main vote was split between councillors Leanne Brown, Matt Cowley, Bev Edlin, Gail McIntosh and John Robson saying yes to defined areas, and Kelvin Clout, Rick Curach, Bill Grainger, Steve Morris and Catherine Stewart opposing. Mayor Stuart Crosby was not at the meeting.
Bylaws and parking team leader Stuart Goodman said defining the areas avoided having signs everywhere and the city would look tidier.
He also cited new health and safety laws.
Cr Robson called election signs "an abomination" and there were simple mechanisms to address problems caused by signs. Cr McIntosh said staff had done a great job clarifying a messy issue.
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A move to allow election signs to be pasted on billboards owned by the Baypark-based, council-controlled organisation Bay Venues Ltd was defeated 8-2, with councillors Clout and McIntosh supporting the idea.
Cr Curach referred to advice from the Auditor-General's office about potential areas of conflict. Cr Brown said they needed to keep it completely separate and transparent.
The council also agreed to extend the period to six weeks on which signs were allowed to be displayed on public land - ending the two-week difference between the time signs could go on private land.