Nelson City Council drafts bylaw to deal with Lewis Stanton

Nelson City Councillors will be presented with a bylaw aimed at dealing with Lewis Stanton's occupation of Trafalgar St.
MARTIN DE RUYTER

Nelson City Councillors will be presented with a bylaw aimed at dealing with Lewis Stanton's occupation of Trafalgar St.

Lewis Stanton's days of living on the streets of central Nelson may be numbered.

The Nelson City Council will consider a draft "urban amenity bylaw" at a meeting on Thursday and mayor Rachel Reese was clear about who had prompted the initiative.

"I think it's fair to say the ongoing issues with Mr Stanton have highlighted some gaps we have in our bylaw processes," Reese said.

Stanton has had several brushes with the law during his self-styled protest in central Nelson.
Alden Williams/Fairfax NZ

Stanton has had several brushes with the law during his self-styled protest in central Nelson.

"The bylaw will be looking to address amenity and safety issues in the CBD. It will be dealing with where you place objects on the footpath, occupation of public places, and the ability to limit materials placed in the public spaces."

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She said it would also look at rules for installing new under-veranda lighting on street fronts.

Patsy Craig and Ru Dawson have been among those leading protests against Stanton's continuing presence in Trafalgar St.
PATRICK HAMILTON

Patsy Craig and Ru Dawson have been among those leading protests against Stanton's continuing presence in Trafalgar St.

"Not really bright lights, just a good level of lighting for a city."

She said council officers were directed to investigate a draft bylaw following a public-excluded council session in December last year.

Officers were told it needed to deal with "public disorder and loss of amenity value in the city".

Reese said the bylaw would go through a consultation process and the public would get a chance to have its say.

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"We have to make sure we have bylaws that respect people's right to protest and bylaws that are able to be effectively enforced."

Reese said the council would have liked to have resolved things with Stanton through negotiation but "that hasn't been possible".

Figures released to Nelson MP Nick Smith under the Official Information Act earlier this week showed Stanton's legal aid costs have hit $45,684, while the legal costs to Nelson City Council were $53,451.

Stanton who calls himself a "freelance politician" and is also known as Hone Ma Heke, has been living on Nelson's streets as a form of protest for a number of years.

In 2011, Nelson City Council put in place a blanket trespass order against Stanton, which effectively banned him from 99.46 per cent of public land in Nelson.

It was later overturned in court with a judge saying it contravened the Human Rights Act.

Stanton has most recently brought a $400,000 civil claim against the Nelson City Council, the Attorney-General, and the SPCA.

He is seeking damages over the trespass orders, the confiscation of his possessions, horse, and cart, and his stints of imprisonment due to charges of obstruction.

Since 2001, he's been in and out of court on a number of matters including obstruction, unpaid parking fines, failure to do community work, and assault charges.

In December last year the council delivered a letter of apology to Stanton for the blanket trespass, but he refused to accept it.

The urban amenity bylaw will be dealt with at a mammoth council meeting next Thursday, where a bylaw focusing on freedom camping will also be tabled.

 - Stuff

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