Brothel Row Hots Up

GuruCr Guru gets tough with KCDC boss — and his media manager

By Alan Tristram

Controversial Kapiti Councillor K Gurunathan has rebuked the Kapiti Coast CEO and a media manager over a Council media statement on brothels. 

This follows publication (see item below) of a KCDC statement making clear what the Proposed District Plan (PDP) could allow.

The media release also points out, in the 3rd-to-last paragraph, that Cr Gurunathan was at  the Council workshops which wrote the PDP.

Now Cr Gurunathan (Guru) has written a public  letter to CEO Pat Dougherty, breaking with Council protocol by personally attacking a KCDC officer, who is not officially allowed to respond to this sort of criticism.

Cr Gurunathan says the Kapiti Independent and also a weekly paper are interested in his response to the KCDC release sent out by media manager Anna Kenna.

Upset over workshops statement

In particular, he says, he’s upset by Ms Kenna saying ‘the plan change was discussed at workshops where Councillor K Gurunathan was present, although the possibility of ‘home occupation’ leading to prostitution has only subsequently been highlighted by a submitter to the PDP.’

Cr Gurunathan says: There were almost 50 workshops with the attendance of elected members, including myself, being erratic.

“I  had not attended every workshop. I do not recall being at any workshop where the significant issue of changing the definition of places of assembly in relation to brothels and home occupations was ever mentioned or discussed by planning staff.” 

He says: “In my recent conversation with the then chair of the Regulatory services Committee, Cr Diane Ammundsen, she told me she was also not aware of any change on making brothels a permitted avtivity in residential zones. 

“The insinuation in the council press release is that I was present at the workshop where staff had discussed this brothel/home occupation matter and I had not raised any concerns. This is incorrect.

“The council press release also insinuates that all elected members present at that workshop had somehow approved the establishment of brothels in residential areas. I cannot think of any elected member from the previous council who would have agreed to this. “

 ‘Socio-political issues’

Guru goes on to state that brothels and prostitution have always been contentious socio-political issues. 

“When the Government legislated the Prostitution Reform Act in 2003 to make prostitution a legal activity it empowered local authorities to manage it through their District Plans, he says. 

“This was in recognition of public reactions and sensitivities and for communities to manage it through consultation.

“Ms Kenna’s press release also states that the PDP seeks to get rid of the places of assembly category because it is considered to be ill-defined and problematic and had proven not to be specific enough to be workable.Given prostitution and brothels are specific issues and also very controversial, can you tell us how brothels being classified as places of assembly under the current operative plan had become so problematic to council planning officers that it required it to be redefined as home occupations?

“How did council staff come to the conclusion? Given this issue has historically been a controversial matter and elected members depend on staff to provide them with quality information and options on how to manage controversial issues, why did staff not alert elected members of this significant change during the workshops.” 

Cr Gurunathan adds: “Lastly, I also know that workshops are informal meetings and therefore the attendance of elected members is not registered.

 “So the public claim by Ms Kenna that I was present at this particular workshop cannot be verified nor collaborated by others and therefore misleading information has been given to the media and public.

“I look forward to your (the CEO’s response) response.”