Election signs annoy Stoke resident

SURROUNDED BY SIGNS: 'I've got Labour on both sides, and I don't support Labour,' says Jim Palmer.
SURROUNDED BY SIGNS: 'I've got Labour on both sides, and I don't support Labour,' says Jim Palmer.

Stoke man Jim Palmer is the meat in a Labour sandwich and is having trouble extricating himself.

Palmer was surprised and not pleased to see Labour Party campaign signs put up on city council land just centimetres from his Main Rd Stoke boundary on Wednesday.

To make it worse, there's one at each end, with candidate Maryan Street promoted at the northern end, and the Labour Party vote to the south.

He says it makes it look like he's a Labour supporter, which he isn't.

Within a day it had already caused comment from his colleagues at Nelson Airport, where he works in aerial photography.

"I'm not happy about any political signs being put up right against my fence. This really identifies my place as being a Labour Party stronghold - I've got Labour on both sides, and I don't support Labour," Palmer said.

"Everybody now that drives past here thinks I do. I think they've violated my rights."

Council officer Stephen Lawrence had told him he couldn't do anything about it as the law allowed the signs to be put on council land, and over-ruled council bylaws.

He'd also contacted Street's campaign manager, who'd said she was investigating but that unless the council instructed that the campaign signs for all parties be taken down along the road, "they wouldn't move theirs - although they were still thinking about it".

All he wanted was for the signs to be moved 10 metres away from both ends of his place and he'd be happy, Palmer said.

"At the very least you'd think they would have come in and asked."

Prior to the last election Nick Smith had knocked on his door and asked if he could put a National sign on his fence, but he'd refused. It was a natural spot for signs and if he'd let that one go up, "the circus and every man" would want to put up their signs.

Someone else had fixed a sign to his fence a few months ago to advertise an event, and he'd asked him to remove it.

"Even though it's council land, I don't think it's right that you should do that. He eventually came and got his sign."

Council spokeswoman Ali Hamblin later confirmed that the signs met the legal requirements of the Electoral (Advertising of a Specified Kind) Regulations 2005, which overrode any local bylaw "or other instrument regarding placement of signage".

"We don't have legal power to insist the signs be moved or removed."

Contacted later, Street said she would have a look at Main Rd Stoke today and might have the signs moved.

"This is the season of complaints," she said, "And some have more grounds than others.

"I've got no interest in making an enemy of this man."

If it was possible to shift the signs to another suitable spot "I'm perfectly happy to do that," she said.

The Nelson Mail