Opinion: Owe Christchurch council money? Don't worry about paying

As far as I'm concerned, it is wrong on so many levels, writes John MacDonald. Photo: Supplied
As far as I'm concerned, it is wrong on so many levels, writes John MacDonald. Photo: Supplied
OPINION: If you've got an outstanding parking fine from the Christchurch City Council, don't bother paying it - just get yourself a meeting with the mayor and it will disappear. Just like that.

In fact, not just parking fines, any money you might owe the Christchurch City Council - call them up today, book in some time in the Mayoral Lounge, and you'll walk out the door owing nothing.

You might be one of those people with a city council rates instalment due on the 15th of August. You've got just over a month to get a fireside chat with the mayor organised and you'll save yourself a rates bill.

That's how things roll at the city council these days.

Because that is exactly what a chap by the name of Derek Tait managed to pull off yesterday. He's the local Destiny Church pastor who was the mouthpiece for the Freedom and Rights Coalition, which held all the anti-vax and anti-mandate protests over summer

Remember those? They started in Cranmer Square week after week, which was also the spot where all the freedom fighters set up camp in their little pup tents. And did their best to make life miserable for the people living in the Cranmer Square area.

Who, quite rightly, are outraged that Derek Tait and his anti-mandate mates have been let off paying the $50,000 they owe the Christchurch City Council for causing all that disruption.

If we go back to March when the council was making all the noise about charging the protesters the $50,000 because of the way they'd gone about things to cause maximum disruption, this is how the mayor was talking.

"Members of the community and business owners have raised concerns about how intimidated staff and customers have been by hordes of people not wearing masks entering stores and yelling abuse."

She didn't sound like she had much time or sympathy for the freedom fighters, did she? That was back in March.

Fast-forward to yesterday, and Lianne Dalziel had more than changed her tune and was more than happy to forget about the $50,000 and she even posed for a photo with Tait.

"Ah, Derek, don't worry about it. Let's just drop the whole thing. And when you get home, you just rip those invoices into little tiny pieces and you just concentrate on doing God's work."

Quite rightly, Cranmer Square residents are outraged.

Here's a quote from one of them: "She [that's the mayor this resident is talking about] did nothing for months while these things were going on, while they put tents and portaloos all over the square, made a massive nuisance of themselves and blocked roads with their marches. It was all the Destiny Church. I think it's absolutely wrong."

And I couldn't agree more. The Christchurch City Council - and, in particular Mayor Lianne Dalziel - have shown that we're not just living in the People's Republic of Christchurch, we're living in the People's Republic of Pushovers.

Tait, the Destiny Church, the Freedom and Rights Coalition and all the other hangers-on - remember the National Front crew jumped on the bandwagon too - they were all involved in that shambles, and they've been let off in a way that you and I can only dream of.

And let's not forget here that this $50,000 wasn't just a fine, it was the council trying to recover costs it actually incurred because of the way Destiny Church and the freedom fighters ran things.

They wanted to cause maximum disruption which meant the council had to step in with full-on traffic management - the full cost of which was $50,533. But the mayor yesterday took it on herself to approve the council effectively funding that protest action.

It wasn't revenue-generating - like many fines are - it was cost recovery. Because the council is out of pocket, as a result of the protest action. And if the costs aren't recovered, it's ratepayer money down the drain. And I have no idea what made Lianne Dalziel think yesterday that she could just wave the magic wand and make it all disappear.

As far as I'm concerned, it is wrong on so many levels and just shows to me - once again - that the Mayor has well and truly checked-out and can't wait until she becomes the former mayor of Christchurch in October.

-By John MacDonald, Canterbury Mornings host on Newstalk ZB Christchurch




Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter