Signs Of a Problem
By Andrew Frame

Just when Hastings thought it had all the mindless Council fun with sports park funding, wastelands where sports parks used to be, and problems with pools of stuff that is hard to push up hill, the Napier City Council comes barging along and abducts some retailers’ advertising sandwich boards.

I must say I do not find sandwich boards a menace in my duties about town. I have never been impeded, assaulted or abused by a shop’s sandwich board. Their purpose generally does not allow them to hide from shoppers and spring up to surprise or trip pedestrians caught unawares. They are reasonably hard to miss and I find the easiest solution when confronted by one is to “go around it”.

So it came as a shock when the Dominion and even the Hawke’s Bay Today featured stories and pictures of innocent sandwich boards being heaved onto the back of a Council truck. Fantastic PR!

One of the photos even showed a Kiwibank sign being hoisted onto the truck. This image got to me. Not only was the Napier City Council picking on small local businesses, it was picking on government-run entities too! An uprising of the middlemen – the bourgeoisie are at it again! Quick, hide the guillotines!

This appears to be a tale of two sides of the city too. Upper Tennyson Street’s footpaths were a nightmare for years with café tables and chairs on one side and pot plants on the other. Getting through just by yourself was an effort … with shopping bags or prams, a nightmare. Did the Council sue, or pull up in a truck and take all the furniture and flora away? Hardly, they got rid of six or so car parks, turned them into pavement, and gave the cafés, plants, tables and chairs more room. Wasn’t that nice of the NCC?

Charging eventually $500 per year for the space a sandwich board takes up (roughly a quarter of a square meter) is ludicrous. The CBD has already seen some horrific rent rises as landlords who missed out on the property boom with their last lease agreement try to make up for lost money in a desperate grab for cash. I know of one case where a shop’s new rent was equivalent to that of stores in Newmarket, Auckland. Last time I checked, Napier did not have around a million people living in close proximity. Needless to say, the store’s owner decided enough was enough and closed down. A number of stores have gone the same way and more will follow. Does whoever comes up with all the smart ideas for Napier City Council honestly think that adding these silly fees and laws will attract more businesses?

Inner City Marketing, the Council-funded entity set up to help CBD retailers does not seem to be helping its clients much either. Whose needs are they obliged to look after first? Letters have been circulated and retailers were reminded that the new bylaw is a DRAFT. Doesn’t that mean not compulsory, a plan, an idea, ignorable? Thursday’s incursion would indicate the Council has either made up is mind, or just decided to bully their way along. ICM didn’t stop them.

In a crusade to achieve world heritage status for Napier’s CBD, sandwich boards are one of the first casualties. The styling of shop signage has already been targeted. What will be next?

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5 Comments

  1. Go the Buzz!!

    Who's behind this neurotic Mrs Bucket tidy-up , and shouldn't we be told?!

    Our lovely ad hoc beach communities have been subjected to a similarly mean spirited hoovering.

    Rumour is that 'somebody complained'…can this be true?And how do we get things back to normal?

  2. Well for my sixpence I bet the Napier council backs down and returns the sandwich boards.

    I bet Barby didn't even order the purge and it was the mistake of a lesser mortal in council.

    Gosh, Napier doesn’t do silly things like this? That's Hastings..

    Isn’t it?

  3. On Friday 19Th March there was an important public meeting of the Hawkes Bay ANZ/ING Frozen Funds Group at the Hettinga Winery in Hastings. This was to launch MP Lianne Dalziel's (Labour) Private Members Bill, which aims to amend the Illegal Contracts Act of 1970, to stop companies including a waiver in settlement contracts that prevent victims having any financial recompense if a regulator subsequently makes a ruling against them.

    The meeting was also attended by MP John Boscowan (ACT), who has joined up with Lianne on this bill, and the Green Party. It is also supported by the Maori Party. Many invitations were sent to local and national representatives of the National Party, but for one reason or another they could not attend or comment.

    The current situation means we can be blackmailed out of consumer rights, as was the case in the ANZ/ING debacle. As investors in the failed and frozen ING Regular Income Fund and ING Diversified Yield Fund, ANZ/ING made us a final offer 60/62 cents in the dollar. This had risen from an initial offer of 10 cents in the dollar, after our national network of Frozen Funds Groups had been formed, and we had staged 18 months of campaigning and protests.

    During this period ANZ, who owned 49% if ING NZ and have since bought full ownership, have been under investigation by the Commerce Commission, an issue they chose to deny for many months. This would be inline with their policy of very cloudy 'transparency'.

    In a recent article in The Hawkes Bay Today (20/03) headed 'Funds' Rescue Bill Unveiled' John Body, head of ANZ's private banking and wealth, said "ANZ believes the Bill would have disturbing implications for commercial settlements in New Zealand" and went on to say its retrospective nature "should be particularly worrying for the business sector in New Zealand". He also pointed out that this could make settlements drag on for years.

    To reply to this, I agree it would be particularly worrying for ANZ, (maybe $200 million worrying), because its retrospective nature would mean that if the Commerce Commission finds ANZ guilty of wrong doing/breaking the law, ANZ will have to pay back 14,000 New Zealanders in the ANZ/ING RIF and DYF funds the money that they thought their waiver removing our consumer rights had saved them from.

    Body's concern over extended time scale however was not so evident in the offers ANZ made to their victims, that had 5 year periods attached and particularly in the final offer, take the offer or your money may be tied up for 70 years and worthless.

    He also made no reference to how worrying it would be to consumers who end up with no consumer protection, these being the mums and dads and pensioners and all of his everyday hard working customers.

    Businesses, including ANZ, have nothing to fear from the Law if they trade honourably, honestly and pay their taxes, and looking at recent Finance Company and Financial Product failiures, this Bill must happen.

    Support the Bill.

    by Philip East of The Hawkes Bay Frozen Funds Group

  4. Someones has heads in the sand ,or heads somewhere less accessible ..

    many small businesses are struggling and need to market themselves ,with a sandwich board ..

    I`d rather see a few sandwich boards than a row of vacant shops .

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