Rotorua Pro Democracy Society founding member Reynold Macpherson says a ban on banners and placards for hearings on the council's controversial Te Arawa Partnership Proposal is "unnecessarily draconian".
Mr Macpherson will be one of the first of more than 200 people to present their submissions to councillors, over five days of hearings regarding the partnership proposal.
Hearings are scheduled for 10.30am to 5pm today, then 9.30am to 5pm tomorrow and on Tuesday May 5, Wednesday May 6 and Monday May 11.
Submitters have 10 minutes each to speak to their submissions with the council recommending people speak for five minutes and allow five minutes for questions from the mayor and councillors.
At previous meetings regarding the proposal, Pro Democracy Society members were seen holding banners and heard calling out during proceedings.
In yesterday's Rotorua Daily Post, the council's Strategy and Partnerships group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said people attending the hearings in the council chamber would be asked to "be respectful and not cheer, jeer or clap during submissions". In addition, banners and placards won't be allowed in the chamber.
Mr Gaston said making a verbal submission could be a daunting task and "we want submitters to feel as comfortable and safe as possible, and not have their speaking time affected by others who may hold different views to them".
Mr Macpherson said he would present twice this morning, once on the Pro Democracy Society's own preferred model and once as a private individual.
He said the banning of placards and banners was "an unnecessary restriction on people's freedom to express dissent".
"I thought it was unnecessarily draconian.
"People have a right to protest."
When asked if society members would be wearing "D" badges, as some had done at past council meetings, Mr Macpherson said it was a trivial question and what people wore to the hearings was a personal decision.
However, he said he hoped the mayor and councillors would realise the proposal had "deeply divided" the Rotorua community and decide not to go ahead with it and "use a more inclusionary process to build a better consensus".
The society has also planned a "Demonstrate for Democracy" street march on Saturday, May 23 from midday starting at the City Focus and heading down Tutanekai and Haupapa streets before stopping outside the council's Civic Centre for lunch at the RSA.
The council is expected to consider all submissions and make its final decision on the partnership proposal at a meeting on Tuesday, May 26.
A schedule for the hearings and copies of all submissions are available at www.rdc.govt.nz
Some of the submitters
* John Merito
* Stewart Edward
* Julie Calnan
* Cliff Lee
* Tamati Coffey
* Roger Brewster
* Anaru Rangiheuea
* Te Taru White
* Keneti (Ken) Kennedy
* Arapeta Tahana
* Sir Toby Curtis
* John Chadwick