Legal-high committee debated

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2014

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It is a controversial issue and even with most of the councillors' support it couldn't make it through a city council committee meeting without debate.

The draft psychoactive substances policy, a joint initiative among the Gore District Council, Southland District Council and Invercargill City Council, was discussed in the city council's regulatory services committee meeting last night.

The policy sets out where legal highs will be able to be sold throughout the region.

Once adopted, retailers will be unable to sell the highs outside the central business districts of Invercargill, Winton, Gore and Te Anau.

While most of the councillors supported the policy, conceding there was little more the council could do to restrict the sale of the products, the debate surrounded the choice of councillors for the committee to hear submissions with the other two councils.

A committee will be formed as part of the policy and will include two councillors from each council.

Councillor Lindsay Thomas nominated himself for the position, but committee chairman Darren Ludlow questioned his ability to be impartial on the topic.

Cr Thomas said he would be fit for the position because of his passion surrounding the issue and his work as a truancy officer.

However, Cr Ludlow said that may hinder his ability to hear both sides of the issue fairly.

"Can you hear it with an open mind?"

Cr Ludlow was also backed by corporate planner Melissa Short, who said she would query the perception of bias around the issue.

However, Cr Thomas was adamant he would be suitable for the role.

"I also drive on the roads and I am in charge of the the roads. Do I have a bias about that?"

The committee decided to recommend Cr Thomas and councillor Karen Arnold, who also put herself forward for the committee.

Cr Ludlow said the issue could be reconsidered at the full council meeting next month.

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- The Southland Times

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