Nelson’s high profile horse and cart owner has been ordered to pay $32,000 within a month or appear in court to explain parking fees that are now worth more than $50,000.
Lewis Stanton was handed a summons to appear in court yesterday afternoon as his suitcase full of parking tickets continues to grow and the city’s deputy mayor fears the whole saga may end with him behind bars.
“The way it’s going and the way New Zealand deals with these things, the ultimate end game will be he will probably go to prison,” says Ali Boswijk. “He will rack up so many fines, he’ll end up back in the court system, he won’t be able to pay and the judge will have no choice.”
Lewis became a well-known face in Nelson when he staged his 18 month long sit in protest towards the council on Trafalgar St. That ended when his horse Barney was returned but now he and his horse occupy several car parks on Bridge St each day, collecting tens of thousands of dollars in parking fines.
Nelson City Council has asked its staff to continue to work with central government to try and find a way to move him on, says Ali. “One of the things we really want to make clear to staff and to Nelson people is that we haven’t actually given up and we’re still trying to find a solution. We want to work with other agencies to find ways to make him move on. We want to try and keep the dialogue going, we have to keep trying.”
But Lewis says he won’t end up in jail because the system can’t imprison him for failing to pay fines and the council are in a “mess of their own making”. He says to resolve the issue they need to “solve the problem they’ve created”.
“They’ve taken me to court three times in ten years and each time they have lost. I want a public apology, and compensation. They don’t have the gumption to stand up and say ‘hey, we’ve made a mistake’.”
Lewis says he’s only in the city because he was kicked out of Tahunanui.
“For a start, the reason I am stuck here is that the council have a court order to stop me from being in Tahuna. In order to survive I have to park up where there’s people.”
He says he welcomes the opportunity to have his say in court, in front of a judge.
“I’ll always use the court of law as a public and political forum.”