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Stop the Public Places Bylaw

Stop the Public Places Bylaw

The Council for Civil Liberties and Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) today called for Wellingtonians to make submissions against the Wellington City Council's proposed Public Places Bylaw.

Michael Bott, Chairperson of the New Zealand Council of Civil Liberties and Stephanie McIntryre, Director, of DCM said they were very disturbed to note certain provisions in the Bylaw which will require people to get written permission from the Council before they distribute written material or gather in a public place. The Bylaw will also ban camping in public places.

Mr. Bott said the proposed Bylaw would breach the Bill of Rights. "The rights to assemble and to freedom of speech are sacrosanct in our society. The Council has no right to restrict those rights."

"By requiring permission before you can exercise your right to free speech, the Council is turning a right into a discretionary privilege," Mr Bott says.

Mr Bott also said the Council would investigate the option of taking the Council to court if the Bylaw is passed.

Ms McIntyre said she was very concerned about the provision relating to camping in public places. She said "whilst the Council argues this will not be used against people who live on the street, the Council needs to make quite clear what it intends to do when a complaint is made".

Ms McIntyre continued "hundreds of Wellingtonians gathered last year for the funeral of Robert Jones, a recluse who slept rough in the town belt, an area specifically targeted by the proposed bylaw. His circumstances touched many people. Had this bylaw been in existence last year, what would have happened to Robert?"

Mr. Bott and Ms. McIntryre said their respective organisations would concentrate on raising awareness of the Bylaw and would encourage as many people as possible to make submissions. Leaflets will be distributed in the central city and information stalls have been organised to help people with submissions.

Both organisations were involved with the campaign last year to stop the Council introducing a Bylaw to that would have effectively criminalised the homeless and driven them from central city streets.

Submissions on the Bylaw close Monday 5th April at 4pm. Information on the Bylaw can be obtained on the City Council's website at www.wcc.govt.nz.


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