Van­dals tear up river­bank

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

The ‘‘stu­pid­ity of the 1 per cent’’ has caused $10,000 worth of dam­age to a river re­serve in Marl­bor­ough, with the ‘‘99 per cent of ... law abid­ing’’ Marl­buri­ans ex­pected to foot the bill.

More than 100 wil­low and po­plar poles, used to con­trol ero­sion and flood­ing, have been de­stroyed near the Wairau River by van­dals in four-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles in the past few months.

In one in­ci­dent at the Penin­sula Road Nurs­ery site, near Spring Creek, van­dals de­stroyed a steel gate and dis­lodged three con­crete blocks an­chored with wire rope to break in and drive over plant­ings.

Marl­bor­ough coun­cil­lor Ge­off Evans said at an as­sets and ser­vices com­mit­tee meet­ing last month the in­ci­dents were ‘‘ut­ter stu­pid­ity’’.

‘‘It’s stupid be­hav­iour and it can’t be con­doned,’’ Evans said. ‘‘It must have been planned in or­der to pull con­crete blocks out, and that doesn’t make sense to me.’’

A re­port to coun­cil showed ‘‘at least $10,000’’ had been spent re­pair­ing the gates, and buy­ing con­crete blocks and wire rope to se­cure the at-risk berm ar­eas.

Coun­cil­lor Cyn­thia Brooks said the lengths the van­dals went to by re­mov­ing con­crete bol­lards and chains ‘‘beg­gars be­lief’’.

‘‘My thoughts on the dam­age are of real dis­ap­point­ment, that the per­son or per­sons who car­ried out this mind­less de­struc­tion of flood pro­tec­tion plant­ing’s could let their whole com­mu­nity down in this way,’’ she said.

‘‘It all comes at a cost to every­one, not to men­tion our rivers staff who are do­ing their ut­most to pro­tect the plains from flood­ing.’’

She said most recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties that took place around Marl­bor­ough’s rivers and streams oc­curred on coun­cil re­serve land, such as pic­nick­ing, boat­ing, fish­ing and swim­ming.

‘‘The free­dom to do these things is ap­pre­ci­ated and en­joyed by the 99 per cent of our peo­ple,

who are re­spect­ful and law abid­ing,’’ Brooks said.

‘‘I worry that the stu­pid­ity of the 1 per cent might, in time, erode the rights of every­one else by way of more re­stricted ac­cess to such places.’’

The re­port said there had been a ‘‘long his­tory’’ of dam­age and van­dal­ism to river pro­tec­tion works in the re­gion.

Typ­i­cal ex­am­ples in­cluded the dump­ing of burnt out cars, il­le­gal rub­bish dump­ing and dam­age to berms, plant­ings, fences, gates, signs and stop banks thanks to ve­hi­cles, it said.

But Brooks said she had not read a re­port on such ‘‘mind­less de­struc­tion’’ since she was ap­pointed coun­cil­lor in 2013.

‘‘Dump­ing of rub­bish is a peren­nial and an­noy­ing [thing] but this wan­ton de­struc­tion is some­thing else again,’’ she said.

A long-term re­view of how the Wairau River sys­tem would be man­aged and pro­tected in fu­ture was be­ing planned by the coun­cil.

Brooks urged river re­serve users to act as the ‘‘eyes and ears’’ of the com­mu­nity and re­port van­dal­ism to po­lice or the coun­cil.

‘‘It would have been so much bet­ter if these clowns could have been caught in the act and made ac­count­able for their ac­tions,’’ she said.

Con­tact Blen­heim po­lice on (03) 578 5279 or the coun­cil on (03) 520 7400.

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