First fines issued to skaters

Hang time . . . Skatepark regular Hamish Morgan pulls off a 360 flip at the Thomas Burns St...
Hang time . . . Skatepark regular Hamish Morgan pulls off a 360 flip at the Thomas Burns St Skatepark on Tuesday. Mr Morgan said he did not mind where he skated but the skatepark was an easy place to go even though he thought the skateparks around the city needed to be updated. Photo by Tim Miller
The first fine for breaking the Dunedin City Council's skateboarding bylaw has been handed out 13 years after the bylaw came into effect.

Police and the council are now being more proactive in targeting skateboarders who break the bylaw, after complaints from businesses and the public.

Senior Community Constable Heather Rei said she had received complaints from businesses about groups of young people skateboarding on the footpath in front of their premises.

More than 20 $50 fines were given out by police during the last school holidays, Snr Const Rei said.

A large number of warnings were also given out, she said.

Snr Const Rei said those breaking the bylaw had possibly worked out a system when they saw police coming. They let everyone else know and the left the scene.

It was mostly the same skateboarders who were having to be warned again and again, she said.

''They say the reason they are skating in these areas is because they want to hang out with their mates.

The best place they could go was one of the skateparks around the city, she said.

Albion Pl, which runs off George St, was not included in the bylaw and Snr Const Rei had received complaints from businesses about skateboarders using the walkway.

''I plan to go to the council and try and get it incorporated into the bylaw,'' she said.

Council environmental health team leader Ros MacGill said the council had also received complaints from businesses about youths skateboarding on the footpath.

Ms Macgill said she could not recall the last time anyone was fined under the bylaw.

One of the reasons was because a lot of the offenders were under 14 and could only be issued with a warning, she said.

The problem had got to a point where the council and police no longer had any other option than to fine people, Ms MacGill said. Wall Street Mall manager Regan Bennett said he had noticed an increase in groups of skateboarders using the footpath outside the mall during the past year.

''It's a real hotspot. Probably because we have the park bench right outside and the kerb is quite wide so we have tried to manage it the best we could with our staff and security,'' Mr Bennett said.

There had been a decrease in skaters in the past month, which could be because of the school holidays ending but the increased enforcement would have also have helped, he said.

Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said there had been problems in the past with people skating along the Dunedin Railway Station platform.

However, in the past year or so the problem had almost disappeared, Mr Bond said.

''When it rained all the people from the skatepark used to come over here but it no longer really happens.''

The railway station was covered by the council's skating bylaw and it was up to the council to enforce it, he said.

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