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The Press – Yardley column.Mar 23.

Waging War against Vandals.

Graffiti, the projectile vomit of vandals, continues to monster Christchurch, with the New Brighton war memorial reprehensibly splattered yet again. Underscoring the unprecedented volume of vandalism defacing suburbia, 82% of residents ranked graffiti as Christchurch’s biggest problem, in the council’s latest quality of life survey. City leaders are right to question the effectiveness of the council’s anti-graffiti strategy and the resolve of the police and courts to hammer home society’s revulsion at vandalism. It is the height of stupidity that the council database only furnishes the police with the top five most prolific taggers each month. Would we only expect the top five recidivist burglars to be prosecuted per month? Of course, many of the vandals are the spawn of the city’s worst criminal gang families. Cr Barry Corbett believes the police know most of them and should pro-actively wage war against graffiti. I feel very Singaporean about vandals. They deserve a flogging. But in “civilised” New Zealand, every collared vandal should at least endure a dose of humiliation. Force them to wear a fluffy pink bunny suits with ridiculous tails, as they undertake community service. The recidivists deserve a short stint in jail, as the Napier District Court has demonstrated. Just because you are a competitive skateboarder like Jack Dargan, why should repeat vandals avoid wilful damage convictions, so their North American travels aren’t jeopardised? The judiciary should show no mercy.

Red Zone.

T Minus 8 days. The clock is ticking on Red Zone offers.  Many owners of uninsurable bare land remain profoundly miffed at being treated in the same manner as uninsured property owners, whereby the government offer is 50% of rateable value. I sought a legal opinion from Lane Neave partner, Dr. Duncan Webb, who is sympathetic to the government’s position on bare land. Dr. Webb points out that some of the owners are really profit makers, upset that they have lost their unsold subdivisions. Why should the government compensate developers for lost profits, when the 50% offer is probably close to what the land purchase cost them? Webb also believes it’s feasible for some aggrieved owners to spurn the offer and retain their land. As the recent Tower Insurance court case revealed, the city council doesn’t consider the Red Zone status as a specific reason to decline building consents. But the question I wish Tower was asked in court, is, whether they would insure new builds in the Red Zone? Meanwhile, when it comes to compulsory acquisition, Gerry Brownlee has been dangling the sword of Damocles for nigh on two years. He still won’t declare his hand, but I suspect compulsory acquisition is extremely unlikely, given the criteria under the CERA Act and Public Works Act.

( First published in The Weekend Press, March 23.)  7031646

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