Council wants legislative muscle

Council officers hope local bylaws will soon have more bite to them.

Local governments sometimes struggle to enforce many bylaws, Mary-Anne Priest, the New Plymouth District Council's manager of customer and regulatory service said.

Central government was pushing for councils to manage issues in its own region, but were yet to provide enough framework to enforce any rules, she said.

"It is very frustrating when you have a lot of bylaws but there's not much you can do except prosecute," she said.

The council's manager of enforcement, Lloyd Crow said fines could be issued for noise or animal control issues because the bylaws were backed up by the Resource Management Act and the Ministry of Justice.

He said there was a reasonable expectation that if people repeatedly broke bylaws, they would be prosecuted.

The pair hoped a review into how central and local government work together would lead to bylaws having more power.

The review is being led by the Productivity Commission, which is an independent Crown entity, Priest said.

"They recognise that local government struggle to deal with a lot of issues because we don't have the legislation behind us," she said.

But it seems even when council does have legislation behind its bylaws, there are still issues that create inefficiencies.

In 2009 New Plymouth councillors voted to give dozens of people the power to enforce new littering laws.

Police constables, parking wardens, environmental health officers and a range of council officers became litter control officers with the power to dish out fines of $200 to anyone found littering.

Since then, only 16 fines have been issued.

Taranaki Daily News