Waitakere City Council Close Down Water Protest
From: Meredydd Barrar (spokesperson)
On Thursday August 9th Citizens against Privatisation organised a rally opposing user pays for water and promoting a water charge boycott in Waitakere City. The rally took place at Catherine Street, Henderson Square off Grt North Rd, Henderson. This area is owned by Waitakere residents and run on our behalf by the council. It is perhaps the only place left in West Auckland where such rallies can occur as the rest of the market place is now under private ownership (Pak n Save, Foodtown etc). In fact Henderson Community Board has set aside this area to allow such events to take place.
On August 9th Waitakere City Council sent enforcement officers to the rally with the sole intention of closing it down. Parking tickets were issued and noise control bylaws were enforced. Council officers'' even attempted to confiscate the groups' sound equipment. The police were also present.
Meredydd Barrar C.A.P spokesperson says, "these are real jackboot tactics. When the council officers arrived we asked for some latitude and explained the rally would be over in 10 minutes. Mr Jim Gladwin from the Water Pressure Group (Auckland City) in fact turned down the PA after the officer mentioned excess noise. He then gave us 2 minutes to stop the rally before issuing a ticket for noise and having a fire engine parked on the edge of the square. This was not a wild party; it was an opportunity for the public to listen to speeches about the effects of user pays for water and why water should be a basic human right in Waitakere and all of New Zealand. When we moved our fire engine to a roadside parking space another council official attempted to issue another parking ticket. Even the police who were present must have recognised the excessiveness of the action when they actually prevented the council official from issuing the ticket. The sound equipment was only saved when C.A.P supporters vowed to defend it, and after the council phoned their 'heavies' instructing them to back off".
Dean Murray C.A.P member says "These actions are an attempt to deny C.A.P the right to political expression. Only last week they tore down all of our 'Don't pay your next water bill" hoardings which were erected throughout West Auckland not because they didn't fulfil the councils display criteria but because they disagreed with the wording. These two actions amount to blatant censorship. Despite their actions the water boycott is spreading and over 300 Waitakere citizens have signed pledges not to pay their next water bill. These have been sent via PM Helen Clark's office to Waitakere City Council".
Since the police visited the homes of two-water bill boycotters, acting on a complaint from W.C.C that they were "stealing water", two more supporters have received disconnection notices. Today, Tuesday 14th August C.A.P will place a picket at their homes and defend their right of access to a water supply. In the UK it is illegal for councils or companies to disconnect water. We are demanding the same apply in New Zealand. The group is also making a stand of the unfairness of the user pays system. Water should be included as part of a progressive rating system, a fairer way of distributing the cost.
Phone Keith 8369104 or Dean 0211341080 at the picket.