Pre-Election Row Hits Kapiti

A sign of the times — Labour accuses KCDC of vandalising its housing signs

Election campaign off to an early start with allegations flying along the Coast

By Alan Tristram

Kapiti Mayor K Gurunathan has replied to allegations by Labour candidate Rob McCann  that the KCDC removed and ‘vandalised’ his signs about a housing crisis meeting.

Mr McCann said the Council ‘has caused a great deal of unnecessary angst’ following revelations that three ‘Housing Crisis’ meeting signs were taken by council, despite earlier assurances from council that they had not been involved.

It’s all a sign of the times, says Mayor Guru

But Mayor Gurunathan denies Mr McCann’s claims and says says it’s all a sign of the (coming election) times…

Mr McCann said in his allegation: “We checked with the Kapiti Council last week and were told they were 99% sure it wasn’t the council that took the Housing Meeting signs. Now they have informed us they took the signs and promised to return the stolen property,” he says.

One sign missing, says McCann

And Mr McCann says that when he went to pick up the signs, the council were unable to locate one and had destroyed the framework of another.

“This is vandalism, bureaucratic nonsense and political interference or deference. The people of Kapiti should be able to decide if they want to go to a housing meeting, not the council, and they should not cave into complaints by people who don’t want housing raised as an issue in our community.” says Mr McCann.

“We are appalled that the council would stifle free speech like this, not inform the owner of the billboards, or even inform each other of their actions.

Otaki farmer and National MP Nathan Guy

“As a Labour Candidate, I am not going to complain about Nathan Guy’s electioneering signs welcoming the expressway, supporting a cycle way or even the one about driving safely at Christmas. They demonstrate an MP trying to pretend he still lives in our electorate and focus on being portrayed as one of the people.”

Mayor Gurunathan’s explanation

But Mayor Gurunthan says:” This is the early exposure of the political underbelly of a general election campaign that’s starting to heat up. And the Council is caught up in what is essentially a fracas between the Labour and National parties.

  • “Firstly, complaints about the Rob McCann signs were lodged with Council. The average person would assume that these were made by Mr McCann’s political opponents. A technical point is that the McCann signs were advertising a meeting that was already past for more than three weeks.
  • “Secondly, the signs were on public land under council jurisdiction.
  • “Thirdly, council records show that, following the complaints on June 29 & 30th, Mr McCann was contacted on June 30th and a message left to contact council. I understand council staff removed the signs on July 4th.”

Protocols followed

Council would have triggered the same protocols if the same set of circumstance applied to National Party’s signs., the Mayor says.

Mr Gurunathan adds: “The facts are that no complaints were made about Mr Nathan Guy’s signs and I am told his signs are also erected on private land. The Electoral Commission has jurisdiction on whether there is a breach.

Guru in earlier times with a sign of his own at the Paraparaumu Beach market

“Candidates and their parties use their creative abilities to leverage publicity for their policies during election campaigns. I congratulate Mr McCann on seizing this opportunity to highlight the nationwide housing crisis which is a well known weakness of the current government.

“Where he is mistaken is in his claims that my council has taken sides in this political fracas or that my council has caved in to anyone wanting to stifle debate on the housing crisis. In fact as mayor, with staff support, I have directly supported the setting up of an independent housing forum to champion the housing problems in Kapiti.”

Extra KCDC statement

And the Mayor added after his first statement: “I have been informed that the third missing sign had been located at the council workshop and is being returned.”