Aucklanders will still be able to salvage second-hand goods from inorganic collections after an Auckland councillor successfully argued that prosecuting people for "scavenging" was ''ridiculous''.
The debate came as Auckland councillors discussed the merits of the Solid Waste Bylaw at a Governing Body meeting in Takapuna yesterday.
Councillor Cathy Casey was against a clause in the bylaw which would have seen people taking items from inorganic collections found guilty of an offence.
Casey also questioned the merit of it given the tough economic times.
"What this means is it will be an offence to pick up an old washing machine that has been thrown out. It is also making it an offence for people to put it there and for other people to take it away.
"If so there'll need to be one or two officers on my street because people throw something out which is unwanted and five minutes later it is picked up."
Council manager of policies and bylaws Andrew Pickering said the clause was included to keep areas free from rotting and smashed appliances.
"It's instances where people are for example smashing televisions for copper and scrap. It's about sending a message to the public that this behaviour is not acceptable and giving an appropriate sanction."
Councillor Richard Northey asked for a common-sense approach and said there was a huge difference between a relatively worn sofa and one that had been left to rot for a month or more.
"I'm sure we could advise our staff not to prosecute unless there is an environmental or a health hazard."
Councillor Dick Quax said he agreed wholeheartedly with Casey.
"In all the time I have been putting out rubbish such as TV's, bicycles and furniture I can say I have never had any personal issues with people picking up things I don't need that may be valuable to someone else.
"I think this is 'overkill.' I can honestly testify that I have never had any problems during my 20 years in Manukau. There's a degree of self-regulation and people know if they do make a mess that the council will do what they're doing now."
The Governing Body unanimously agreed to honour the other Solid Waste Bylaw recommendations. The amendment by Casey to remove the scavenging clause was passed by nine votes to seven.
After the meeting Casey said she believed a sensible-pragmatic decision had been reached. She said inorganic recycling was a really good community-based exercise.
"It's really a time honoured tradition. We give things away and people pick them up. To demonise people who pick up treasures and recycle them and to then prosecute them is ridiculous."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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