DCC will be watching for returning Occupiers: Cull

Dave Cull
Dave Cull
Occupiers may have been absent from the Octagon yesterday, but it is expected they will return, and when they do the Dunedin City Council will be watching, Mayor Dave Cull says.

The Auckland District Court injunction ordering occupiers to leave Aotea Square and remove their tents and other structures, which the Auckland Council then used to give strength to its own bylaws, did appear to set a precedent that could possibly mean the Dunedin City Council would have a better argument in court if it was challenged on enacting its bylaws, Mr Cull said yesterday.

There was the possibility the council would have to consider the use of warranted officers and security guards, as happened in Auckland, if it acted on its bylaw preventing camping in reserves.

But how the council would react at all would depend on how many protesters returned, if they did, and the level of damage and disruption being caused in a public area.

A city councillor this week asked in a public meeting what was being done about the protesters, who he considered were giving the Octagon a bad look, and council chief executive Paul Orders spoke with police about what they were doing.

Mr Cull expected protesters would return, but the rights of people to protest had to be considered and the situation would have to be weighed up as it evolved.

While he agreed that on one level the responsibility for resolving any issues with protesters was the council's, on another level there were bylaws and the agency responsible for enforcing those was the police, he said.

"So why don't they? It needs to be clarified what they can do and can't do."

He said he was frustrated and confused as to why police had not acted on a complaint of wilful damage the council laid with them this week after a tent was erected by protesters on a patch of roped-off, under-repair lawn in the Octagon.

The grass was damaged in the original 66-day occupation of the Octagon last year.

"It's odd that just before Christmas a tent was put up on the grass and there was an immediate arrest. I don't understand."

When asked what they were doing about the complaint, Dunedin police area commander Inspector Greg Sparrow said police were still considering it.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz


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