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Bypass Occupation: Transit The Real Criminals

Bypass Building Occupation: Transit The Real Criminals Says CBC

2 April 2002

Campaign for a Better City (CBC) spokesperson Roland Sapsford today said CBC supported the people who reoccupied a vacant heritage building on the route of the proposed inner-city "bypass" in Wellington.

"CBC was not involved in organising this protest but we understand the motivation of those who acted and we support their action in drawing attention to the problems Transit has created along this part of the "bypass" route." said Mr Sapsford

Around 30 people protesting the proposed inner-city bypass spent the night in the former Tonks Family homestead at the end of Tonks Avenue. This building has most recently been known as Stagecraft Theatre.

In a symbolic act of defiance 6 people remained after being told to leave by 9am and were arrested mid morning. Around 50 police were present.

Mr Sapsford said Transit has neglected buildings along the route for decades and its eviction of tenants early this year simply created another risk to these vulnerable heritage properties. Mr Sapsford said neglect and eviction, rather than occupation of buildings, were the real crime being committed in Tonks Avenue.

"Boarded up buildings and security guards are a poor substitute for well-maintained tenanted buildings - since tenants were evicted there has been an upsurge in vandalism and theft".

"This peaceful occupation demonstrates that this area is loved, lived in and, given half a chance people will put these buildings to use".

Transit needs to start working with the community to get buildings occupied and maintained. Mr Sapsford said those occupying the Stagecraft building said they wanted to create a community centre there. He said community members have also offerred to do repairs if Transit will pay for materials.

"Transit needs to accept the bypass has neither construction funding nor Historic Places Trust Authorisation and start working with people to repair and maintain these buildings as residential properties. Agreeing to retant Stagecraft as a community centre would be a good start."

ENDS

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