Window washers could be wiped by council

Kyle Cresswell in action washing car windows.
Kyle Cresswell in action washing car windows.

A law change which would make intersection car-window washing illegal is being considered by the New Plymouth District Council in a bid to rid the town of unruly "squeegee bandits".

In the past week alone:

One group has been trespassed from St Andrew's Presbyterian Church under suspicion of stealing soap from its toilet.

Police charged two with fighting after a fracas left one of them with a broken nose.

A woman driver complained to police that a female washer pulled down her pants and mooned her.

NPDC customer and regulatory services manager Simon Pickford said the council was now looking into the issue of intersection window washing.

But any changes to a regulation would come at a considerable expense.

The process of introducing a new regulation could cost anywhere up to $30,000, he said.

"There's different ways of regulating that activity.

"We don't know whether a bylaw is the best way," Mr Pickford said.

One option could be to tweak the existing trading in public places bylaw to include window washing. It currently only applies to selling goods not services.

"What you don't want is putting a bylaw in place and finding out there's a loophole."

Additionally, council didn't want any changes to have unintended consequences on legal activities such as donation collectors, he said.

The council would seek advice from lawyers about the best way forward. Creating a new bylaw would be a last resort, he said.

"We want to try to avoid a specific bylaw because it would be a large piece of work.

"Going through the process for the sake of a few people is a big cost to the community.

"It would be much easier to change the existing public places bylaw."

Creating bylaws was not a straightforward process, he said.

"If you're building up a bylaw from scratch it can cost $20,000 to $30,000."

Council needed to ensure that any regulation change is enforceable on state highways, he said.

But one of the original New Plymouth squeegee bandits, Kyle Cresswell, said a bylaw wouldn't stop window washers.

"People would still get out there and do it," Mr Cresswell said.

There were now about 10 window washers in New Plymouth - only five of whom were part of his group, he said.

On a good day he will earn about $110 "if I go hard-out all day".

But business had been dropping off recently, he said.

Mr Cresswell told the Daily News he was not on an unemployment benefit.

He said his group had never stolen soap from the church and bought their own window detergent.

New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven said he would like to see a change in regulation to make window washing illegal.

"They are being a nuisance and they have been told on many occasions to desist," Mr Duynhoven said.

Councillor Shaun Biesiek said it was unlikely there could be any middle ground or compromise reached. He said he witnessed a group of window washers verbally abusing an elderly gentleman in a parked car because he didn't want his windows washed.

"I don't think you can meet some middle ground or compromise with anyone who has that sort of attitude," Mr Biesiek said.

If motorists stopped paying "squeegee bandits" then the problem would resolve itself, he said. "If the community decided enough is enough and stopped paying then these guys would just go away."

Taranaki Daily News