The bylaw is seen as a solution to moving long-time protestor Lewis Stanton from his site on Trafalgar St. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Rough sleepers defiant in wake of bylaw change

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Nelson’s rough sleepers are vowing to defy a new bylaw that seeks to remove people from living on the central city streets.

The Nelson City Council last week adopted the controversial City Amenity Bylaw, forcing Nelson’s homeless community out of the CBD. It is due to come into effect on September 11.

The bylaw regulates what people can do within the city centres and includes a ban on overnight sleeping.

“No person shall sleep or otherwise occupy a footpath or road in the city centre, unless permitted to do so by an authorised officer, during the hours of darkness (being a period of time between half an hour after sunset in one day and half an hour before sunrise in the next day) for a period of two or more continuous hours,” it reads.

However, Lewis Stanton, who has occupied Trafalgar St for many years and has been in a protracted battle with the council over what he sees as his right to protest, is unmoved.

“Even if the police get involved there is such thing as a process … when is the system going to solve the problem?”

He said he did not have any plans on moving.

During the vote on the bylaw, 11 councillors gave their support.

Kate Fulton was the sole councillor opposing the bylaw, saying that banning homeless people from sleeping overnight in the city is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights.

“We need to be protecting the rights of those people,” she said. “I understand why [the bylaw] has come about and I understand that we are trying to meet the needs of all people living in our society, but I think that it’s just a step too far and I can’t support that.”

Councillor Matt Lawrey was absent when the bylaw was voted on.

Council received 319 submissions and of those 268 opposed the bylaw, 36 supported it and 15 did not express a position.

Following the public consultation, the requirement that protestors get a permit from council has been removed, instead the council require a “notification” to allow for the organisation of road closures if needed.