Saturday, June 15, 2024

Time’s up for Picton reserve occupation

Marlborough District Council and Police representatives have met again with members of the Freedom Convoy protest group this morning in Picton.

Last Friday, the group representatives agreed the protesters would relocate from Nelson Square Reserve no later than 5pm today.

Council Chief Executive, Mark Wheeler said a letter was given to the group this morning reiterating the Council’s offer for them to move from Nelson Square to Waitohi Domain, where they can gather during the day until Friday 4 March. 

“The Council has acted in good faith and been generous towards the group by allowing the protesters to continue their occupation of Nelson Square Reserve. Council now expects them to also act in good faith and keep their promise to vacate Nelson Square Reserve by 5.00 pm tonight,” Mr Wheeler said.

The letter explains that the occupation of the reserve is in breach of the Reserves Act, Freedom Camping Act and Council’s public places bylaw, and has generated numerous complaints from local residents.

“If the group does not vacate Nelson Square Reserve today as agreed, Council will have no choice but to trespass everyone on the reserve after the expiry of the deadline. That enforcement will be at the discretion of the Police.”

Marlborough Mayor, John Leggett said the Council sincerely hoped that issuing a trespass notice would not be necessary.

“I think the group has had its voice heard and that any further illegal activity will not help its cause. So far, the Picton community has displayed an admirable level of tolerance towards the protesters, based on the knowledge that an end point to the occupation of their local reserve was in sight.”

“If the group does not relocate today I fear the opinion of most of the community will harden towards the protesters. We have received many complaints already and I expect that will escalate if the group does not move on.”

“It’s clear to me that the vast majority of people want the protesters gone.”

The Mayor said he hoped the protesters would honour their side of the agreement and move on today.

Last Friday’s agreement is outlined here.

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