Ohariu Labour candidate Greg O'Connor pulls signs down
A Labour candidate found out his signs might not be legal, and pulled them down before he was told to.
Former police union boss Greg O'Connor, who is running in the Ohariu electorate, took his signs down after the Wellington City Council replied to a tweet from the electorate's long-time MP Peter Dunne, who was questioning the legality of the signs.
"We agree the signs contravene our District Plan rules. We will be asking the candidate's office to take them down until 22 July," the council said.
Dunne said he sent the tweet on because he had become aware of a complaint, not laid by him, that did not seem to have been followed up.
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"I guess what interested me was, given the rules were pretty clear, the time it was taking to get those signs down."
Thanks— Peter Dunne (@PeterDunneMP) July 3, 2017
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council had been aware of the complaint, but had wanted to get its legal judgement right before raising the issue with O'Connor's office. The council had also been occupied with the Lions tour in town last week.
On Tuesday O'Connor said he had not yet heard from the council, but all the signs had been taken town after he saw the tweet on Monday.
"I ... chose to take them down, no-one's told us to take them down and through all our correspondence we believed we were within our rights, but it's become murky. I'm not interested in breaking any bylaws or rules."
Though we have not been contacted by the council regarding our signs, they were removed to keep focus on the real issues in Ohariu.— Greg O'Connor (@GregOhariu) July 3, 2017
MacLean said the council had emailed O'Connor about the signs on Monday afternoon.
He said O'Connor had breached the rules of the council's district plan, in that some of the signs erected would need to have had resource consent to go where they were. Part of the breach was due to the size of the signs.
The Electoral Act would come into force on July 22, when the official campaigning period began, and the Act would override the district plan, allowing candidates to put their hoardings up.
O'Connor did not want to comment on the fact he'd found out his signs were contravening the district plan over Twitter, saying he did not want to be critical of the council.
He and his staff had thought they were playing by the rules, and the signs would not go back up until it was clear they were allowed.
"Double-checking [the rules] didn't work last time, we'll triple check next time."