Nick Smith has called for a zero-gang policy at Nelson City Council campgrounds.

MARTIN DERUYTER

Nick Smith has called for a zero-gang policy at Nelson City Council campgrounds.

A former Nelson MP has called for gang members to be banned from popular campgrounds such as Tāhunanui and Maitai Valley following a “vicious” attack.

Dr Nick Smith said in a statement on Friday that gang members should be banned from staying in or visiting Nelson City Council subsidized campgrounds like Tāhunanui, Maitai Valley and Brook Valley.

Smith said the zero-tolerance policy was fueled by the “vicious assault” of a Maitai Valley Motor Camp resident by a patched Hells Angels member in February.

Nelson needed “zero tolerance” for this kind of “vicious gang violence”. Smith added that it was appalling that the attack was in retaliation for contacting the police.

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Nick Smith says Nelson should have

Provided

Nick Smith says Nelson should have “zero tolerance for gangs”.

“It is a fundamental right that anyone can call the police and we must never allow this right to be undermined by gang violence.”

Smith proposed that no gang members be allowed on the premises of a campground controlled or owned by Nelson City Council.

The policy would make campgrounds safer for visitors and residents, and send a signal that Nelson had “zero tolerance for gangs.”

Smith had spoken to the president of the Tāhunanui campsite and said he supported the change.

Tahuna Beach Camp Association president Dennis Christian said they don’t have a policy on gang member guests, but he had discussed with Nick Smith that if the council should have a policy on guests gang meetings on council property, that the council would consider such a handwriting font.

Nelson Area Commander’s Inspector Matthew Scoles said police were taking action under Operation Cobalt to ‘make it clear to the gangs that their unlawful behavior will not be tolerated in the community’.

Nelson City Council’s Community Services Group manager Andrew White said the council’s campsites had existing policies in place which reserved the right to terminate the stay of any person or group who did not comply campground rules or any request from management.

“We also reserve the right to request a police check on potential campers,” he said.

In 2009, Whanganui Mayor Michael Laws and council passed a bylaw banning gang patches from downtown and certain specified public places.

The Gang Badge Ban Regulations gave police the power to fine patch wearers $2,000 and confiscate their gang badges, but were ruled illegal in 2011.