Council waives $50k protest bills

Christchurch City Council will withdraw $50,533 in bills handed to The Freedom and Rights Coalition after its anti-mandate marches.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel met with coalition leader Derek Tait on Tuesday to discuss the outstanding invoices to recover costs for traffic management associated with coalition marches through the city between November and March.

A Freedom and Rights Coalition spokesperson said it "goes to show there's nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting, when officials actually take the time to meet with the people they represent and listen to them".

Council general manager, infrastructure Jane Davis said: "We had a very constructive meeting and we have agreed we will waive payment of the invoices on the understanding that the Freedom and Rights Coalition will discuss in advance any plans they have for protest activity that could impact on traffic around the city.

"We did not take the decision to invoice for the Freedom and Rights Coalition for the cost of traffic management lightly because we unreservedly uphold the right of citizens to protest peacefully.

"However, the Freedom and Rights Coalition did not engage with us at the time about their protest marches and how they could be managed safely, as other protest organisers do.

"Now that Mr Tait has agreed to engage with us in the same way that other protest organisers do for traffic management, we have said that we will not pursue payment of the invoices," Davis said.

Tait, who leads the Christchurch branch of the anti-government Freedoms and Rights Coalition, refused to pay the bills.


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