Ramp fee challenged on legality

Former Southland regional manager of the Department of Conservation Kerry Mawhinney is refusing to pay to launch his boat at Jackson Bay, in South Westland.

Mr Mawhinney, who retired in 1986, believes the Westland District Council has no legal right to collect the $15 fee being charged.

He suggests other boat users should not feel obliged to pay. The area at Jackson Bay where recreational boats are launched is widely referred to as a boat ramp but there is no structure and Mr Mawhinney maintains the council cannot legally charge for the use of the beach.

''The council has been saying no-one has been paying for the use of the boat ramp. But there is no boat ramp and there never has been.''

Mr Mawhinney said he launched his boat at Jackson Bay about 15 times a year.

He ignored a letter from the council two or three years ago about his failure to put money in the box provided.

''They could have threatened to prosecute me. They didn't ever mention anything about prosecution because I doubt very much they've got the power to.''

He has also written to the council recently accusing council-owned Westland District Property Ltd of being arrogant saying it was going to ''trespass everyone for using a public beach''.

When asked what legal right the council had to charge, Westland council chief executive Tanya Winter referred the ODT to its Jackson Bay Wharf bylaw giving the council the right to fix a fee to fund the maintenance and renewal of the wharf and any ''associated facilities''.



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