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Subcommittee recommends gang patch bylaw comes into force - 31/07/2009

The council subcommittee today hearing submissions on the proposed gang patch bylaw has made a unanimous recommendation that the bylaw proceed with its current wording and become operable from 1 September 2009.

The subcommittee, comprising Mayor Michael Laws (chair), Senior Cr Randhir Dahya and Cr Rana Waitai, considered 14 submissions, including three oral submissions.

After hearing the submissions and considering the written submissions, the subcommittee made the following recommendations which were carried unanimously:

THAT the Draft Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bylaw 2009 proceed in its current form for consideration for final enactment at the Council meeting to be held on 31 August 2009.

THAT minor typographical errors, including those relating to Mangu Kaha and others, be amended.

THAT the Draft Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bylaw 2009, with minor amendments, be passed to come into force on 1 September 2009.

THAT the submissions of the Hells Angels, Hells Angels lawyer Steve Rollo and Mr Rob Vinsen be noted but rejected.

THAT the specified places for the bylaw be the urban area of Wanganui, Mowhanau/Kai Iwi and all rural halls.

Cr Waitai and Senior Cr Dahya both said during the deliberation phase of the subcommittee meeting that "the politics of appeasement must not be protected in Wanganui in dealing with criminal gangs".

Cr Waitai said that to reject the bylaw on the basis of possible adverse publicity "would do a Neville Chamberlain" and that council needed to send a clear message that gangs and their activities have no place in the Wanganui community.

Senior Cr Dahya said that the bylaw would reduce the potential for intimidation and gang conflict.

Subcommittee chair Mayor Michael Laws said that he was very disappointed that the individual Hells Angels submissioners had either not turned up or refused to answer the committee's questions.

"Their basic thesis was that the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club isn't a criminal gang but they blew a big opportunity today to explain their reasoning and the way they operate. I wanted to ask the members as to their criminal associations and convictions but that now is obviously a moot point.

"It was Parliament and the New Zealand Police who determined the Hells Angels were a gang our bylaw simply demarcates the boundaries where gang patches, gang colours and gang insignia will be banned."

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