By DAVID HILL
The Waimakariri District Council will lobby the government for law changes around firework sales.
Councillors at last week’s meeting voted to support an Auckland Council remit to the Local Government New Zealand conference in July, which calls on central government to introduce legislation to ban the private sale and use of fireworks.
Council staff have also been asked to write to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.
Reporting back to councillors, following a notice of motion by Cr Paul Williams in December, regulation manager Nick Harrison said legal advice confirms councils do not have the ability to ban the sale of fireworks as Parliament has legislated for their sale.
While it is possible to introduce a bylaw to restrict the use of fireworks in public places, enforcement would be a problem and its application on private land is uncertain, Mr Harrison said.
“The problem is how to control it. The peak period would be in November and at night.
“Police already have similar powers, but it’s a matter of being there when the fireworks are lit and catching the offenders in the act.”
Councillors authorised staff to develop a draft Property Maintenance and Nuisance Bylaw, following council staff inquiries into a notice of motion from Cr Dan Gordon in February.
The power to intervene when long grass posed a fire risk passed to Fire and Emergency New Zealand in July last year, leaving the council without the means to intervene.
But Mr Harrison said legal advice confirms councils have the power to develop bylaws “to protect the public from nuisance and maintain public health and safety”.
While she supported the motion, Cr Kirstyn Barnett said she was cautious about “developing bylaws which don’t have a positive impact for councils”, and what constitutes a nuisance for one person may not be an issue for someone else.
Cr Gordon said the ability to recover costs associated with council intervention is an issue.
“But we need to develop the bylaw first and then we can test it to see whether we have the power. Going to the district court may be the avenue to test it out and I would support that, but as a last resort.”
Council staff plan to draft a bylaw and present it to the District Planning and Regulation Committee meeting in August, before going out for public consultation.
The council also received the annual report from the Waimakariri Zone Committee, with chairman Dave Ashby calling on the community to step up and work together.
“We don’t want a repeat of the Hurunui situation. We want interaction between the urban and rural community,” Mr Ashby said.
“It’s about community actions on the ground and getting people to do stuff.”