Octagon occupation review 'ongoing'

The Octagon site taken over by Occupy Dunedin will remain under "ongoing review", with no promises from the Dunedin City Council protesters will not be moved on.

Council chief executive Paul Orders yesterday gave the first indication of when the council might require the site vacated, noting it was "mindful of the need for the community as a whole to be able to access the space".

"This is particularly important given that the Octagon is booked for the upcoming Armistice Day commemoration on November 11."

Asked if the council would allow the protesters to use the site over the long weekend, Mr Orders would only say the issue was under "ongoing review".

Mr Orders late yesterday said he had no official word back from protesters about Thursday's offer of an alternative site at the Market Reserve, a move Mayor Dave Cull said was designed to return the Octagon to all city residents.

Up to 100 Occupy Dunedin protesters have camped out in the Octagon this week, in a local version of a global protest against corporate greed, social inequality, free-market economics and environmental issues.

The group last night included the issue of the council's offer for discussion at its general assembly, which also discussed security issues for the weekend, with "team leaders and team facilitators" to be elected for security.

There was also concern raised early in the meeting about "a party atmosphere" at the site, and discussions about not drinking or using drugs.

"This is not a party," group member Bert Holmes told about 40 people gathered for the 7.30pm assembly.

"We are here for a movement."

Mr Orders said in a press release yesterday cities in New Zealand had adopted a consistent position in dealing with the matter.

"In Dunedin, the council is seeking to take a reasonable stance that balances the wish of the protesters to express their points of view with the needs of the wider community to use and enjoy their Octagon reserve.

"With this in mind, we are keen to ensure that the protest does not go on indefinitely."

That was why the council had offered the protesters the use of the Market Reserve.

"This offer is on the table."

Mr Orders said the Armistice Day commemoration on November 11 was an important civic event, and the need to prepare the Octagon for it was "uppermost in our minds".

"This will weigh heavily in our deliberations as we consider the way forward."

- david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

 

 

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