Ru Dawson, left, and Patsy Craig during their Lewis Stanton counter-protest on Sunday. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Moving Lewis ‘high’ on council agenda

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Incoming councillors are set to be briefed about a possible by-law that “creates the type of environment we want for a vibrant CBD”, but one that could also see Lewis Stanton removed from his Trafalgar St protest.

Mayor Rachel Reese says Nelson City Council is looking “at all avenues” after several weeks of counter-protests from city retailers and opponents to Stanton’s ongoing protest.

“It’s not actually about getting rid of Mr Stanton, it’s about having a by-law that creates the type of environment that we want for a vibrant CBD, and I want officers to see whether there are options through by-law provisions. But you have to remember that we have pursued avenues like that before,” she says.

That signals that a by-law could be implemented across the whole CBD which includes a condition that Stanton would break if he continued with his current protest.

When asked if a by-law was the best way to remove Stanton from the main street, Rachel said: “I’m not in a position at this stage to disclose our legal advice because I need to brief incoming councillors.”

Her comments come a day after another protest by residents at the same spot of Stanton’s ongoing protest.

Ru Dawson was the man behind the latest counter-protest. He says he was inspired after seeing Patsy Craig and Margaret Bowler counter-protest last Sunday.

“I’m just a Nelson resident, ratepayer and just had enough,” says Ru. “I was just sick of it, as lots of other people are, and last Sunday I saw Patsy and her friend sitting here. I thought, ‘here’s an opportunity to get people’s attention’.”

The protest began at noon and attracted around 50-60 people.

While the demonstration was only planned for one day, Ru says if the issue is not resolved they will continue their efforts, people even talking to him about sleeping on the street.

Rachel says she understands frustrations but she hopes to include retailers who have been vocal on the issue in a working group to find a solution.

“I understand the community’s frustrations, in particular the retail community. I could say that the law is an ass and that’s how I feel about it at the moment, but I have to work with it.”