Nelson mayoral candidate Pete Rainey is promising to find a solution to the ongoing problem of Lewis Stanton camping in Trafalgar St, and says he will resign from the mayor’s office if the situation is not sorted by the next election.
Rainey says that while he has some sympathy for Stanton (also known as Hone Ma Heke), the time has come for action.
“I support people’s right to protest, but Mr Stanton is infringing on the freedom of people to run their businesses or just to walk down the street, and that’s not right,” Rainey said.
“If elected mayor, I promise to renew the city’s efforts to find a resolution. Ideally, I’d like it to be a compassionate one but if that proves impossible, I am prepared to play hardball. This has gone on long enough – I’d hope that we can resolve it a lot sooner, but if Lewis Stanton is still camping in Trafalgar Street by the next election, I’ll resign.”
Rainey says that by allowing Stanton to continue to camp in Trafalgar St and spread his possessions down the footpath, Council is unintentionally enabling his antisocial behaviour.
“I’d love to see Mr Stanton find something else to do with his life and if we can help him do that then that would be a great outcome,” he said.
“Having said that, I struggle to believe that a legal remedy doesn’t exist. You don’t see people taking over large tracts of the footpath in other New Zealand cities so I don’t see why we need to accept it in Nelson.”
Rainey said he had discussed the issue with Mr Stanton and would also discuss it with Mr Stanton’s lawyer.
“I wanted to be upfront with Mr Stanton about how seriously I take this issue and how keen I am to resolve it. I know that there are some people in Nelson who support him but I would encourage them to spare a thought for the people and businesses being impacted by his behaviour. I’d also suggest his supporters think carefully about Mr Stanton himself, and consider what might be in his best interests.”