Editorial: Time to resolve Stanton issue

CAN'T PAY, WON'T PAY: Horse and cart owner Lewis Stanton, also known as Hone Ma Heke, has clocked up fines of over $100,000.
CAN'T PAY, WON'T PAY: Horse and cart owner Lewis Stanton, also known as Hone Ma Heke, has clocked up fines of over $100,000.

It's time to say enough is enough. The issues with resident misfit Lewis Stanton, alias Hone Ma Heke need to be resolved.

Stanton polarises opinion in the community like no other. You're either fed up with the contempt he shows for the law, and often anyone who crosses him, or you see him as someone who is essentially doing no harm and should be left alone to live his life the way he wants to.

It's certainly not for want of trying that we have reached this impasse. What figure do his fines need to get to before something is done. Nelson City Council has issued Stanton a total of $110,000 in fines - none of which have been paid. Why? Because he is anti-establishment and believes there is an orchestrated campaign against him. His campaign against the council and the judicial system stems back as far back as 1986 when he thought he was wrongly convicted.

The fines stem from Stanton regularly parking his horse, Barney, and cart in Bridge St, taking up to two spaces. They have predominantly been from failing to have a registered vehicle. Parking is a touchstone issue in Nelson, especially with the hurt many retailers are feeling as a result of changing shopping habits and the health of the economy. Local retailers need as much support as we can give them. Stanton should not be allowed to park in prime parking spots.

The council has vowed to keep writing out tickets to Stanton and he in turn has vowed to keep refusing to pay them. No-one is a winner in this game.

Jail time for Stanton appears more and more likely. Last month, he was sentenced to 400 hours community service for half of the $110,000 fine. So far he has not completed any community service and says he is happy to go to prison on principle. He has attacked both the council and the judicial system amid claims that the former is corrupt.

His lawyer, Steven Zindel, questions the lengths the council is going to and wants a judicial review on the grounds that the council's own by laws do not apply to Stanton as his horse and cart are not a car.

At the end of the day, Stanton wants to live by his own muddled rules. That will inevitably put him back behind bars, which, as his lawyer says, raises safety risks for an older eccentric.