Police back skateboard confiscation

Having the ability to confiscate skateboards in the inner city would be ''extremely useful'', Dunedin police say.

City councillors seem set to recommend that the power to confiscate boards from people riding in prohibited areas in the central city be added to a reviewed skateboarding bylaw.

The proposed changes to the existing bylaw also include expanding the prohibited skating area to include footpaths at Queens Gardens, Albion Pl and on the retail side of George St between Frederick and Albany. 

The skateboarding bylaw hearings subcommittee of Crs David Benson-Pope (chairman), Kate Wilson and Neville Peat reconvened yesterday to hear from police and Age Concern about the extent of the actual problems with skateboarding in Dunedin's CBD.

The committee had asked for their feedback before advancing the review further.

An informal survey of members revealed no actual incidences of injury from skateboarding but, ''perhaps not unexpectedly'', unanimous condemnation of skateboarders, Niall Shepherd, of Age Concern, said.

The main concerns of members, who mainly used the George St and Octagon area, were near misses, the fear of being hit by a skateboarder and intimidation.

Central Dunedin community constable Michael Gasson told the subcommittee in the four months he had been in the job he had issued eight warnings to people riding skateboards in the prohibited area.

His predecessor had issued 30 fines for the same in the previous financial year, and told him the issue was not constant or massive, but was a problem on and off throughout the year.

No actual physical contact had been reported, although he had heard anecdotally of a lot of near misses.

He had not seen huge problems with skateboarders so far and it was not the biggest problem police faced in the area, but shopkeepers he had spoken to about it, particularly in Albion Pl, thought it was a huge problem and said skateboarders riding on the street were an everyday issue for them.

Having the ability to confiscate skateboards, as was proposed, would be helpful to police, because legally they could not fine people aged under 14 at all and because others simply never paid fines, so it was not a deterrent.

He believed if people had their boards taken away groups might move on from problem locations.

Cr Wilson said she was concerned about discouraging commuter use of skateboards as a legitimate form of active transport, especially among younger children, and asked how he saw that working with the prohibition.

People could just pick up their boards and walk through prohibited areas, Const Gasson said.

Asked about mobility scooters causing problems, he had not noticed the same issue, perhaps because they moved at the same speed as pedestrians.

Cr Benson-Pope said having the police and Age Concern information made him more comfortable about the proposed changes, and he felt the proposed bylaw should proceed as it was because it would add a useful tool to the enforcers' ''quiver''.

Cr Wilson still wondered if the bylaw was the most fair the subcommittee could come up with, and had some concerns about mobility scooters, although she was advised by staff those concerns could be addressed in a proposed use of public places policy.

She would prefer a 10kmh speed limit for skateboarders in the CBD, Cr Wilson said, but Cr Benson-Pope said that would be ''totally impractical'' and unnecessarily complex.

Cr Peat agreed.

The subcommittee adjourned again for some technical and formatting details to be resolved before signing off on the changes for approval by the full council.



No skateboarding

• The area within Moray Pl, including the Octagon and Library Plaza.

• George St, from Frederick St to Moray Pl, Stuart St, from and including the Railway Station and Anzac Square, to Moray Pl.

• Princes St, from Water St to Moray Pl.

• Queens Gardens, including Cenotaph and nearby garden areas.

• Wickliffe Square (Exchange area).

• St Clair Esplanade.

• Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Source: DCC


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