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Pool Owners Report Court Shambles

In 2003 a large number of pool owners in Waitakere City received prosecution notices. Some of them had recent compliance certificates. Some of those people had two or three adjournments. On 1 October 2004, Randerson J rejected the specific declaration sought by the Council.

On 8 October 2004 Dai Bindoff for WCC announced all cases were expected to be reviewed by Christmas.

In February and March 2005, there were 155 call-overs set down for the Waitakere District Court relating to swimming pool fencing. This was a costly business for ordinary citizens, the vast majority of whom had never before been accused of a criminal offence. The result was a shambles!

Many people turned up at Court to find the Council had already withdrawn prosecutions against them. Many did not turn up but their names occurred on Court lists. Many reported to the Bail Room, quite disgruntled, and said courier vans had been sent around to their properties in the last few days with letters urging them to apply for exemptions.

By 21 March, 17 Status Hearings were set down for May and 63 Defended Hearings set down for the same day in June. The SAME day? --- Yes, the same day, June 17.

On 8 May I wrote to Rick Barker, Minister of Courts, expressing concern about the process which amounted to bureaucratic bullying. Will the cycle repeat itself?

A week later 2 of our members attended Status "Hearings". What a waste of time. They were more like "Tellings" than Hearings and there was very little "discussion" as outlined in the pamphlets they had been provided with.

On Friday 10 June I rang the Minister's office to precipitate a reply to my letter of a month outstanding. I was informed the matter would be attended to on Monday.

This morning I received via email, a letter dated 14 June from the Minister advising me "since the call-over on 7 February , the court is currently able to identify a total of 30 active cases involving 45 individual parties set down for defended hearings on 17 June 2005."

Yesterday I received an email from Denis Sheard, Legal Services Manager, WCC, advising no cases will go ahead this Friday.

I have also had reports that Patrick Mulligan of Kensington Swan has been ringing people over the last week urging them to apply for exemptions.

As predicted the situation is a SHAMBLES.

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