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A Gibbston resident is prepared to "challenge the validity" of Queenstown Lakes District Council submissions hearings on the proposed freedom camping bylaw, given several submitters appear to have been left off the speakers’ list.
The agenda for the hearings, being held in Queenstown today and Wanaka on Wednesday, was sent out publicly on Friday, but released to those who had indicated they wished to speak on Thursday.
Gibbston resident Dr Jane Shearer said she was "quite surprised" when she received the speakers’ list to discover two individuals and the Gibbston Community Association - all opposed to the proposed bylaw - were not included.
"So I sent a message [to them] saying, ‘hey, are you guys not so bothered anymore? What’s the story?’
"I got a message back from [all of] them ... saying, ‘we asked to speak, we were not included on the list’.
"I’m one person in one area and I knew three people [missed off] the list.
"So my question is, if those three people were dropped off the list, how many others were?"
Dr Shearer had contacted the council to alert them to the issue, but said she was prepared to challenge the validity of the hearing, if required.
"If there are a huge number of people who wish to speak, and have not been allowed to speak at the hearing, the hearing is not valid and due process will not have been done."
Gibbston Community Association chairman Craig Palmer said he contacted the council on Friday, after learning of the omission, to advise he wished to speak — he had not heard back by late Friday afternoon.
"I may have missed a step at some stage. I’ll have to check, but we definitely indicated we wanted to speak and I only realised that we were not on the list [on Friday] afternoon.
"I don’t know if we’ve been left off deliberately, because we’re opposing it, or if it’s just an [accidental] error.
"We’re hoping that we do get the opportunity ... it looks like they’ve left a few gaps in their schedule, so hopefully there’s enough gaps to accommodate those who’ve been left out," he said.
Council media and channels adviser Sam White said the council was aware of one member of the public who had been missed from the speakers list, but had since manage to slot them in.
"We are not aware of any other submitters who requested to speak at the hearings in Queenstown and Wanaka and who are not on the public speaking list.
"Anyone [who made a formal submission and] who thinks they have been missed off the list should contact us as soon as possible so we can organise a speaking time."
However, Mr White said all submissions were considered equally by the hearings panel, regardless of anyone speaking to their submission.
A total of 284 submissions were received on the bylaw - according to a report to the council, 22 submitters wanted to be heard.
In all, almost 85% of submitters were opposed.
Of those, 184 believed the bylaw did not go far enough to prohibit freedom camping in the district - a blanket prohibition is not permitted - and 29 said it was too restrictive.