Ram-raid committee looks for solutions

Kate Durie For more information contact — Maria at Maria. heslop@craigsip.com






Aram-raid committee to discuss the recent attacks in our town has been set up. The first meeting was held on Tuesday night and deemed a success as members were able to outline what the committee is aiming to achieve for Te Awamutu business owners. One goal the committee has is to partition the council around having two or three standardised structures that shop owners can implement in their shops without having to get permission. This would avoid cases like Noel Lemming being ram-raided three times in 14 months and then having to submit multiple times to the Waipa¯ District Council before the council allowed them to put a structure in place. This committee comprises Constable Ryan Fleming of the Te Awamutu Police, Commsafe, Maria Heslop from the Chamber of Commerce, Ange Holt from the community board and both tenants and owners of our local businesses in town such as Showcase Jewellers, Full Flow Engineering, Fresh Choice and the building owner of Noel Leeming. Maria Heslop approached the council regarding a representative from council and iwi but instead received a reply that they would not be providing any. Response from transportation manager Dawn Inglis said, “The Waipa¯ District Public Places Bylaw 2018 prohibits the installation of any structures in public spaces without written authorisation from council. Council has to balance the private use of public land against the needs of the public to use the footpath. We also have to avoid placing structures that interfere with the reasonable use of road space for utility services like water, power, gas telecommunications and electricity. “We are sympathetic to property and store owners who have been repeatedly targeted by ram-raiders, despite the various prevention measures they have installed within the properties themselves. We also acknowledge that this type of behaviour does seem to be escalating. We have worked with businesses to help them examine different protection devices. “Some stores have installed bollards or rails directly within their property line and thus could do so without impacting the public space or needing any approvals from council and this is our preferred approach as it is often the least cost and complexity for the store owner. “Where this was not possible council has granted a couple of licences for business and property owners to install bollards on the footpath immediately outside their premises. The owner is responsible to meet all costs.” Dawn added that “discussions on specific properties can be arranged”. The committee is still actively trying to get someone from the Waipa¯ District Council onto the committee board for council representation. From the Chamber of Commerce’s point of view, they want to support local businesses as well as attract new businesses to Te Awamutu and help grow the overall community. “We cannot do this with such prevalent ram-raiding as not only does this make businesses such as Noel Leeming want to leave it also detracts new businesses from wanting to open up. Who wants to live in a town with high rates of crime?” says Maria Heslop. “We also want to retain our locals to live, work and play here in Te Awamutu. Huge numbers travel to other centres to work. If we had these businesses here our town would prosper,” says Maria. The committee is aiming to get local candidates standing for Parliament involved, “as it is election year to make it an election-year issue”, says Maria. Other ideas pitched were to put concrete planters down both sides of the main street, along with seats and street art. The committee will talk with Waka Kotahi about street play to see whether that could be a solution to deterring ram raids. A town camera fund was discussed. They are also hoping to start a fund where anyone can contribute in order to make Te Awamutu CBD safer. The Chamber of Commerce is going to host events on protecting your building, gaining compliance with building warrants and helping get more volunteers for Commsafe to allow them to operate in the early hours of the morning, which is the prime time for raids.