Squeegee window washer wants council's help to become legit
"I used to break windows," says Selwyn Lucan Phillips. "Now I wash them."
But possibly not for much longer, however, if a new Bill making its way through Parliament becomes law.
The Land Transport (Vehicle User Safety) Amendment Bill proposes $150 fines for window washers/squeegee bandits - those people who offer to clean your car windscreen at traffic lights.
And that's potentially bad news for Phillips, who for the past year has plied his trade at the intersection of Gover St and Leach St in New Plymouth.
"There are a lot of us who love our job," the 33-year-old father of three, who hitch-hikes in from Parihaka, in South Taranaki, said.
Phillips said his criminal record meant window washing was the only work he could get.
He's been doing it for the past decade and likes being outdoors.
He says he's learned skills such as dealing with people and anger management, which has helped him to completely turn his back on a past that involved burglary, theft and assault.
"I spend my money on new gear and high visibility clothing," he said.
"I stick to the intersection and I'm polite.
"A lot of businesses come and ask me to do their windows."
Phillips wants the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) to consider a bylaw that would allow people such as himself to carry on working should the Bill, which is supported by National, Labour, Act and United Future, become law.
While other councils in New Zealand have introduced bylaws to ban window washers, the NPDC sees it as essentially a police matter.
Officers in the city have previously voiced support for the Bill.
"I'm asking the council if they could give us a set of rules to abide by," Phillips said.
Such a move would allow him to become "legit", declare his earnings and pay tax.
He said a lot of people had the wrong idea about people like him and he just wanted to earn an income.
"I could be recognised for getting out there rather than sitting on my bum."
Cheryl McGrath, NPDC Compliance Lead, said: "The council hasn't received any complaints about window washers in recent times, although we have in the past.
"We've never considered issuing permits and we wait with interest for the law change, which would allow for on-the-spot fines to be issued by police against car window washers.
"Enforcement of the law will be the responsibility of the police."
- Taranaki Daily News