Monday, July 28, 2008

Bogus calls waste SPCA's time and petrol


Wanganui Chronicle

Unfounded and malicious calls are emptying Wanganui's SPCA petrol tanks.

SPCA shelter manager Val Waters said about three out of 30 complaints to the association were unfounded.

The calls had become a huge problem because of the high cost of petrol. The association was paying three times more for gas than last year. Petrol prices were "staggeringly high", she said.

Unnecessary calls, where animals were used as ammunition in neighbourhood or domestic arguments, put a strain on the shelter.

"A lot of the complaints are unfounded or malicious, and that really hits us hard the fact that we have to go," Ms Waters said.

"I feel a bit aggrieved about doing that, and it's a huge cost of petrol to go to some of these complaints. There is usually a neighbourhood squabble or even a domestic thing, and they bring the SPCA in as an extra baton." Wanganui SPCA covered the area through Marton, Bulls, Hunterville, Raetihi and Waverley, and investigated every complaint they received.

"It is a big area, and when you get called to malicious complaints, it's pretty annoying.

"We get them regularly, and you have to go because, you never know, it could be a genuine complaint of animal welfare concern."

The unfounded complaints were often to the surprise of the animal owners, Ms Waters said.

"Owners are horrified when the SPCA turns up. Who can blame them?"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ball season spells party problems

Wanganui Chronicle

Wanganui's high-school ball season has started. And so has the problem of trying to police the secretive, sometimes out-of-control after-parties.

Schools spoken to by Wanganui Chronicle said they had their balls under control when it came to drinking they all have an outright ban but after-parties were often beyond their control.

Wanganui Girls' College acting principal Maartje Morton said their ball, which kicked off the ball season at the end of June, had been "absolutely fantastic" without any problems. However, some students had organised an after-party which got out of control.

Mrs Morton said she had heard about the party a few weeks before it happened and had done everything she could to stop it.

"We did all we could to alert them of the dangers of the party but because it was done privately and not on school sites we couldn't take the matter any further."

Wanganui High School's deputy principal Elizabeth Spooner said her school did not condone drunken after-parties.

The school supported students having a quiet, sober gathering after the ball the August 2, but they were "totally anti any organised hoolie".

Confirming it was often hoteliers bearing the brunt of bad student behaviour, Deputy Mayor Dot McKinnon, owner of the Kingsgate Hotel, said students were unwelcome at her hotel because of past problems, but sometimes they slipped through.

"When you've got 70 rooms to sell you don't always know who is in the rooms. Often the parents ring up and put the children in the room and we don't know that they are only children in there."

Students sometimes caused problems for others staying at her hotel.

"It's really just drunkenness, being sick and loud and noisy."

Alcohol Advisory Council strategy manager Andrew Hearn said unsupervised after-balls were a recipe for disaster.

"The combination of too much alcohol and lack of parental supervision means the potential for alcohol-related harms are huge."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Put up a poster, it's election year

Appeared in the Wellingtonian and on

Political parties are taking up hotly contested poster spots in Wellington's central business district in the lead-up to the general election later this year.

With at least four months until the general election, some political parties are already making their mark on CBD buildings, power boxes and street lamps with their campaign advertising.

In the CBD, the Workers Party and the Green Party have started visible election campaigns.

Their posters, plastered in places usually reserved for advertising music shows, are becoming prominent around the CBD.

Nick Kelly, the Wellington branch organiser of the socialist Workers Party, says they started putting up their posters in early July, well before most other political parties.

The posters are simple in design, list the party's website and some have slogans the party support.

Mr Kelly says the small party, who are in the process of registering with the electoral office as a political party, are using this simple and cheap method to get their name out there early.

The Green Party is the only other party to have used this postering method this year.

In April the Green Party launched their campaign using pop-art styled posters of graffiti images and slogans.

The posters were visible throughout the CBD in April but have since been postered over or pulled down.
Likewise, many of the Workers Party posters up in the CBD have already been pulled down or covered over in the last week because of competition for poster space.

Mr Kelly says this is why they have a team of supporters to regularly put up the posters, some of which are done so illegally.

But the Wellington City Council says it often takes a relaxed approach to this kind of advertising, even though it is "technically illegal".

Council communications adviser Richard MacLean says postering on council-owned places is technically illegal and that most private property owners don't like it.

He says the council's approach to postering depends on where they are put and what they are of.
He says grotesque or offensive posters are usually taken down.

"It depends on the part of town.

"We take a slightly relaxed view, like if it's Cuba Street."

Mr MacLean says he does not see election advertising, especially on such a small scale as the Workers Party, as a big problem.

"Generally people go for bigger electoral hoardings.

"I don't think pasting an A4 piece of paper is that effective."

However, Mr Kelly says their campaign method of postering has been effective so far.

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"The day we put them up the hits on our website went up, off the record, and the only thing that happened was we put them up."

However, with the 2007 Electoral Finance Act, the Workers Party have already broken a national law in their postering.

While the posters have the national campaign manager, Rebecca Broad's name on them, they do not have her street address, required under the 2007 Electoral Finance Act.

Mr Kelly says the party has not yet been pulled up on these and has since made posters with correct authorisation.

He says leaving off the information, which, if the police prosecute the party could cost them $20,000, was a "genuine mistake".