Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Councillors call for eviction of occupation camp

A group of councillors say ratepayers are paying thousands of dollars a day to host an illegal protest. Photo / Richard Robinson
A group of councillors say ratepayers are paying thousands of dollars a day to host an illegal protest. Photo / Richard Robinson

Getting a court order to clear protesters who have been camped in Aotea Square since October 15 should be treated as a priority, say eight Auckland council members.

In a letter to council chief executive Doug McKay, the councillors said the anti-capitalism protesters were trifling with the council by breaching a bylaw prohibiting unauthorised camping in a public place.

"We believe there is good justification for the council to remove the tents.

"If you are reluctant to remove the tents arbitrarily then we suggest the council should urgently obtain a court order."

The letter was signed by councillors Cameron Brewer, Chris Fletcher, Des Morrison, Calum Penrose, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, George Wood and Sir John Walker.

The council has 20 members and Mayor Len Brown.

Mr Wood, a former senior police officer, said yesterday he was suggesting council staff get the right court orders to remove the compound and its rubbish bins and placards.

"We have sat on our hands too long," said Mr Wood.

He said the occupation of the square should have been stopped as soon as it started.

"They covered only about a third of the grassed area. Once they decided to bring in all the 75 tents and cover the whole area, the council was on a hiding to nothing."

Mr Brewer called for the council to make a stand on behalf of ratepayers who were paying thousands of dollars a day to host an illegal protest which denied citizens use of precious green space in the city centre.

"Nearly three weeks ago, the mayor promised us he was giving them two weeks.

"That deadline was on Friday and all we got was more excuses.

"Last week we were promised it would all be over the day after the general election but now that's looking increasingly unlikely."

Standing in for Mr Brown, who is in China looking at tunnelling technology, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said the council had not been idle.

"We said from day one that we want our square back so it can be used by Aucklanders ... it's not just eight councillors saying that ... it's the whole of council and the organisation."

In Dunedin, the police did not enforce a trespass notice and withdrew an affidavit in support of Dunedin City Council's application to the court for an injunction.

Legal constraints which are restricting police action in Dunedin also applied in Auckland, said a senior council adviser.

Mrs Hulse said the council was talking daily to the police and Occupy Auckland leadership and legal options for removal were being worked on.

- NZ Herald

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