Freedom and Rights Coalition protest bill overturned after meeting with Christchurch mayor

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait met on Tuesday.

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Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait met on Tuesday.

A $50,000 bill for costs incurred during anti-government protests in Christchurch has been canceled after Mayor Lianne Dalziel met with Destiny Church pastor Derek Tait.

Tait said she met with Dalziel on Tuesday afternoon and she agreed to withdraw the three invoices, which totaled $50,533 to pay for traffic management during the November, December, January and February protests.

“He was cleared,” he said.

“The fine was a non-event, because I wasn’t going to pay it… There was no legal basis for it.”

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The three invoices had not been paid, although they were due on January 20, March 20 and April 20 respectively.

Christchurch City Council sent the bills to the Freedom and Rights Coalition group, led in Christchurch by Tait.

The council’s chief infrastructure officer, Jane Davis, attended the meeting with the mayor.

Derek Tait of the Freedom and Rights Coalition at a protest in Cranmer Square in November.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Derek Tait of the Freedom and Rights Coalition at a protest in Cranmer Square in November.

“We have agreed to waive payment of bills with the understanding that the Freedom and Rights Coalition will discuss in advance any plans for protest activity that may impact traffic in the city,” she said. declared.

“We did not take the decision to charge the Freedom and Rights Coalition the cost of managing the traffic lightly because we wholeheartedly defend the right of citizens to peaceful protest.

“However, the Freedom and Rights Coalition did not engage with us at the time about their protest marches and how they could be safely handled, as other protest organizers do.

“Now that Mr. Tait has agreed to engage with us in the same way that other protest organizers do with traffic management, we have said we will not pursue payment of the bills.”

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Portable toilets and coffee carts were introduced in Christchurch’s Cranmer Square as more than a thousand people rallied against Covid-19 mandates in February.

Veteran protester John Minto welcomed the news.

Minto said while he disagreed with much of what was said at the Tait rallies, the right to protest was essential.

“I have never seen a protest group get a council or government bill in 40 or 50 years of being involved in all sorts of protests. This should never have been considered.

Cranmer Square resident Jeanette Forbes said she was not surprised the bills were cancelled.

“There are people who can get away with murder and people who can’t,” she said.

“It seems like Mr. Tait can get away with almost anything.”

She said the protests in Cranmer Square had been disruptive and “intimidating”.

“I feel helpless, really. Are we a rules-based country, or are we not? »

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