20 Jun 2012

Councillor scathing about cost of evicting Occupy protesters

6:33 pm on 20 June 2012

An Auckland councillor is scathing of what she says is the almost $400,000 to keep Occupy protesters out of Aotea Square.

The council on Tuesday decided to drop all trespass notices and legal action against the group, which set up camp in the square for three months from October last year.

Dozens of people pitched tents in Aotea Square occupying the area as part of a global protest against corporate greed.

They were forced out using bylaw legislation that forbids camping and the council was taking court action to clarify what would happen if they returned.

But lawyers for the council have this week decided that the threat of the protesters returning has died down and that there is no need to continue any legal action.

The councillor, Cathy Casey, says the cost to evict the protesters in January, fix the grass and pay for ongoing legal advice has been a waste of money.

She says the cost is twice as much as the regional events budget - which is put to much better use.

But another councillor says while it has been an expensive exercise, it was necessary to get rid of the protesters and clear the square for public use.

Cameron Brewer says if anything the council should have acted sooner, which could have saved money.