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Council votes not to go to mediation with bar owners

16 March 2006

Christchurch City Councillors voted at their meeting today not to make an offer to go to mediation with seven Oxford Tce bar owners, who are refusing to sign licences to rent public footpath space outside their properties.

Despite the fact that the bar owners had been informed yesterday  that Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore would suggest mediation to the Councillors, legal proceedings were issued against the Council this morning, seeking a judicial review of the process used by the Council to set its rent for footpaths and other public spaces.

“The Councillors’ stance demonstrates the certainty they have in the process that has been used in setting the rental for Oxford Tce and the rest of the city.  If the bar owners want this to go to judicial review then this is their call,” Mr Moore said.

“Some of the Oxford Tce property owners who are refusing to sign their licences have been lobbying against their rent since it was first introduced in 1998,” he said.

“We can easily justify an average rent that comes to less than $200 a week per property in this area, especially when you take into account the money the Council has spent developing and maintaining The Strip.   Street cleaning costs alone add an extra $40,000 to the Council’s maintenance budget. We are also budgeting for $1.7 million to be spent on the Avon River Corridor through this part of the city, so we are spending some serious money in this area.”

In response to the bar owners’ dissatisfaction with their rental, the Council has in the past undertaken extensive consultation with them and a Council subcommittee has twice reviewed its Public Streets Enclosure Policy.  

“We have however remained firm on the method that we use to set rentals for public footpath space.  It is now time for these people to get on with it and sign their licences,” Mr Moore said.  “We have 81 businesses that rent public space from the Council – 74 have signed their leases and seven are holding out.”

Rental for public space in Christchurch is set by taking into account location, area of land and a percentage of the rental paid by adjoining businesses.  If businesses are occupying prime public property they pay more.

“Ratepayers pay for public spaces and they expect businesses to pay a rental for the land they are occupying.  We can’t have one rule for some and not for others,” Mr Moore said.

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