School points to bylaw in brothel row

By Michael Dickison

Parents, staff and residents say the new Club Red Door is too close to Henderson Intermediate. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Parents, staff and residents say the new Club Red Door is too close to Henderson Intermediate. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A school board's chairman wants a bylaw to get a brothel across the street removed - or at least some leadership.

But the district's deputy mayor says only the Government can intervene while its MP, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, says only the council can.

A brothel has been opened across the street from Henderson Intermediate School, angering parents, staff and residents who say it is too close to children.

Board of Trustees chairman Ron Crawford said he had received many messages from across the country conveying disgust at the situation.

He met with Waitakere Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse today but was left confused after being told nothing could be done, Mr Crawford said.

Since the meeting he learned that Rodney District Council has a bylaw preventing a brothel from opening near a school, he said.

"Where's the leadership and common sense?

"Instead of hearing the word 'can't' I actually believe there's a word 'can' - if they take leadership they can do things ... but I don't know whether there's a desire."

He was writing a letter to Ms Hulse to urge action.

But Ms Hulse said bylaws in other districts restricting brothels' locations had been found illegal in courts.

The council was not convinced such a bylaw would stand up in court and therefore it could end up costing Waitakere ratepayers in legal fees without being effective, she said.

"I've got sympathy at the school's concerns at having a brothel across the road. However, it's a lawful and legal activity," Ms Hulse said.

If the brothel had more than four workers it would need to apply for a resource consent letting the council intervene.

But otherwise the council was powerless under current legislation, she said.

She would talk to Waitakere MP Paula Bennett and suggest a review of the legislation to give communities greater control over where brothels are sited, while keeping them legal, she said.

Waitakere MP Paula Bennett yesterday said she did not feel comfortable with "the proximately of these kinds of businesses to schools" but it was within the law and a matter for local government.

Rodney's bylaw prohibits a brothel from opening within 200m of a school, pre-school or church.

It also disallows neon signs and "sexually explicit" or "lewd" imagery outside brothels.

A spokesman said the council had amended the bylaw in December last year to comply with legislation and was confident it would stand up in court.

There are only one or two brothels in the district and no challenge had yet been made against the bylaw, the spokesman said.

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