Three local boards have called for better enforcement of bylaws after low compliance in their communities.
The Hibiscus and Bays, Takapuna-Devonport and Kaipātiki Local Boards presented the effects of non-compliance and enforcement of bylaws on their communities to the Regulatory Committee meeting on March 8.
The boards detailed how fly-tipping, dog control, illegal camping, driving on beaches, sedimentation and noise complaints to Auckland Council had fallen on deaf ears.
Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chair Ruth Jackson said there was a backlog of 1700 complaints from her area alone.
“The most common complaint we all get is frustration about Council being unable to effectively enforce bylaws,” Jackson said.
She said residents had been told, “We can’t help you” when they complained.
Jackson pointed to staff shortages and sheer travel time as obstacles. She said it was an organisational issue and not a criticism of staff.
Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member Alexis Poppelbaum said the bylaw system was immensely complicated and broken.
“People see this as a core function of Council. People are dejected and frustrated,” Popplebaum said.
She said Council and Auckland Transport were battling over who should enforce bylaws for people driving on beaches.
“We don’t care; just enforce it,” she said.
Popplebaum wanted to see a comprehensive review of bylaw enforcement across Council and its organisations.
Kaipātiki Local Board chair John Gillon said non-compliance that should take a few weeks to enforce had taken years.
Gillion said that one family was driven out of their home when illegal camping at Hinemoa Reserve kept their kids up all night.
Committee chair Linda Cooper said enforcement often meant having to take people to court.
“Quite often the burden of proof is huge on Council,” Cooper said.
Independent Māori Statutory Board member Glenn Wilcox said police or the Department of Conservation should also be able to enforce.
“It seems to me that we’re overloaded with people to do compliance,” Wilcox said.
Board member Ruth Jackson said police can’t act unless they have a warranted officer of Council.
“They can’t enforce our bylaws.”
Regulatory Services director Craig Hobbs said Council opted for a graduated approach: a conversation, a warning and further enforcement.
“We don’t have fining powers in the bylaws so we have to prosecute and the returns are minimal,” Hobbs said.
Licensing and Regulatory Compliance general manager James Hassall said the violence enforcement staff experienced was disturbing.
“We have had a huge increase in aggression. In many animal management cases we have to send two officers. It has halved my compliance staff,” Hassall said.
Hassall wanted the Local Government Act to change and allow infringement when bylaws were broken.
“Without a change, Council has to continue using a lengthy prosecution process.”
Board members were invited for further talks on the issue with Central Government MPs and police officials by Cr Sharon Stewart.