Hells Angels are
on top in the latest stoush in Whanganui between
mayor Michael Laws and gangs.
A two-metre-high iron
fence around the gang's headquarters in Kaikokopu Rd
still stands, despite Wanganui District Council
voting in January to seek a court order for its
removal and Mr Laws promising swift action.
The council was to be
the first in the country to have an "intimidating"
structure torn down under the Gangs and Organised
Crime Bill, which came into force in December.
Under the law, the
court can order a structure to be removed if it
facilitates or conceals crime, or is used by alleged
criminals to hide from police.
But Wanganui District
Court has still not seen any paperwork and neither
Mr Laws nor Whanganui area commander Inspector
Duncan MacLeod could say when that would happen when
asked by The Dominion Post yesterday. Mr Laws said
police were leading the action with the support of
"I agree that it
appears their efficiency is not at a high standard
on this matter," he said. "The issue may be stalled
at police HQ in Wellington. They're funny buggers
there and you can quote me."
Mr MacLeod said the
matter was "a complex legal issue" and police were
still discussing it with the council.
Councillor Rob Vinsen
said he questioned how the fence application was
progressing back in July and was told it would be
"sorted in a few weeks".
There had been no
discussion about the fence around the council table
since then and no further issues with the Hells
Angels had been brought to council's attention, he
said. "I suspect the case police came up with is not
convincing enough to persuade a district court judge
to remove the fence."
At the January council
meeting, a letter from police was tabled which said
there had been 12 instances since 2001 of people
evading police by seeking refuge in the Hells
Angels' headquarters to avoid driving offences.
Leslie Gill, 81, who
has lived next to the Hells Angels since 1985, said
residents were happy for the fence to remain.
It spared them the
sight of what was going on inside and blocked the
noise of motorbikes, he said. "I've had 25 years of
it and they [Hells Angels] have never been any worry
to me. Every time they make a bit of noise I go over
there and tell them what I think."
He suggested no action
had been taken because the fence was more an issue
of Mr Laws' profile, rather than public safety. "He
became quite a figure New Zealand-wide when he got
rid of the gang patches.
"There's no doubt
about it, he went up a number of pegs ... so the
fence would be just putting a little bit of cream on
top of the milk."
The fence was granted
resource consent in 1984, making it fully legal.