Discussions around the Southern Link and Lewis Stanton dominated the Tahunanui Community Centre’s candidates’ debate on Tuesday night.
Around 120 people attended the debate, held at the Tahunanui School hall, which featured all four mayoral candidates for Nelson City Council and all but three council candidates. The three missing were Trudie Brand, Heather Bryant and Gaile Noonan.
Each council candidate was given two minutes to speak, with the mayoral candidates given five.
Topics during the pre-prepared speeches ranged from keeping debt low (Kevin Gardiner), to closing off the top of Trafalgar Street for a month during summer to create a summer square (Matt Lawrey), to a super eco-friendly southern arterial route (Robbie Kavannah).
But it was during the question and answer session from the crowd that things got interesting.
Lewis Stanton’s Trafalgar St protest drew a range of opinions from the candidates.
Councillor Ruth Copeland said a “sincere apology” from the city will help move the issue forward because Stanton “has a rather large chip on his shoulder going back a number of years”.
Kindra Douglas expanded on that, suggesting a civic reception to apologise to him for past wrongs “might be the next step”.
That was met by gasps and several shouts of “no” from the crowd before a man shouted that if there was an apology he would keep wanting more, meaning compensation from the city.
Cynthia McConville had a very opposite view. She said she employed Stanton at her property to fell some trees several years ago. “He will play you for as long as he can to get what he wants,” she warned the crowd before suggesting that a permit for protests should be implemented.
Matt Lawrey said the mood around Stanton’s protest had shifted in the past six months. “As a city we’ve reached ‘peak Hone’. People who were supporters are now joining the chorus of others to say actually we need this issue resolved. And – actually I read this in the Weekly tonight – I think the situation will get solved because I think he wants it solved.”
Mayoral candidate Pete Rainey said it was a tough situation and he was going to “try as hard as I can” to solve it if elected mayor.
Mayor Rachel Reese, said it was a “challenging community issue” and that the council was getting more legal advice on it.
Mayoral candidate Richard Osmaston, who is a member of the Free Money Party, and believes money is the cause of society’s problems, says his major issue with Trafalgar St wasn’t Stanton, but the shops.
Other issues raised included the council’s involvement with special housing accord, debt levels, publically excluded meetings, freedom camping, the Modellers Pond and the Southern Link.
On the Southern Link, 16 council candidates and one mayoral candidate, Rachel Reese, said they supported building the new road from Annesbrook to Port Nelson, via Victory.
Kindra Douglas, who is against the link, was asked how many schools and children would be effected if the Southern Link was built. She said Nelson Intermediate, Victory Primary, Y Kids, Victory Kindergarten and Auckland Point School would all be alongside the new State Highway if the Southern Link was built. That’s between 1500 to 1700 kids.
Asked if she could say how many children on Waimea Rd and Tahunanui were effected by traffic currently she replied, “I’m a Victory expert. I don’t know about the others.”
The event was organised by the Tahunanui Community Centre and the Tahunanui Business Association.