Council Initiates Removal of 'Occupy' Wellington

31 January 2012

Wellington City Council this morning took action to shut down the 'Occupy' camp next to the City to Sea Bridge in Civic Square.

The Council had been negotiating since 16 October last year with the campers to vacate the site. Written and verbal requests have repeatedly been ignored.

The Council enforced its bylaw that prohibits camping in public spaces. In accordance with Section 164 of the Local Government Act 2002, the campers were asked to remove their tents and other gear from the site and they agreed.

The Council's Director of Citizen Engagement, Wendy Walker, says the Council will always support the right of people to protest but not when it results in public land being damaged and taken away from use by the general public.

"The Council has been reasonable with the campers throughout this process but the occupation became a way of life. Camping on this site is in direct breach of Council's bylaw and could not continue indefinitely."

Acting Mayor Ian McKinnon says the Council has been reasonable with the protestors every step of the way.

"Wellington has a reputation for allowing law-abiding protests but any protest has to be balanced against the rights of others," says Cr McKinnon.

"This protest has been on a public space green area for 108 days. It is an area often used by others and, further, it has had considerable damage done to its surface, with the cost of restoration now having to be met by the city.

"Council Officers have tried on a number of occasions to negotiate with the protesters but without success. It is certainly now time this area was once again available to all Wellingtonians."

Temporary fencing will be erected around the site to allow for the rehabilitation of the grassed area and to prevent reoccupation.