NO SIGNS ALLOWED: Bay of Plenty Regional Council candidate for the Kohi Maori constituency Toi Iti is asked to remove his campaign sign in accordance with the Opotiki election bylaw. Photo Jos Wheeler

A BAY of Plenty Regional Council candidate was surprised to learn campaign signs were not allowed in Opotiki until next week.

Toi Iti, a candidate for the Kohi Maori constituency, recently erected a series of billboards around Opotiki, Whakatane and Kawerau.

Having secured two prominent spots in the Opotiki district for his billboards, Mr Iti said the surprise came when he received a call.

“A few days later, I got a call from the Opotiki District Council asking very politely that I take the signs down,” he said.

“As soon as we found out and got the call, we went and removed the signs.”

Mr Iti said he was aware of an Opotiki bylaw that stated no campaign signage could be erected more than a month before elections.

However, he said he had thought this reference date was September 20, when voters would receive their voting papers.

“Election day is actually the final day when your voting papers have to be received (October 12),” Mr Iti said.

This means campaign signage can only be erected on September 12, next Thursday.

Mr Iti said this timeframe did not leave much room for candidates to campaign.

“People could receive their papers on the 20th and have voted by the 21st, so it doesn’t leave much time for campaigning,” he said.

He said the other two districts he had placed billboards in did not share these timeframes, and allowed for signage immediately after nominations closed.

“As soon as nominations close and are publicised, you are allowed to start campaigning,” he said.

Planning and regulatory group manager Gerard McCormack said this measure was taken to prevent cluttering the town with signs and keep campaigns cost-effective.

“I understand that this relates to a desire to protect the amenity of the district by having a short window in which signs can be displayed,” he said.

“Also, I believe that previously election candidates – back in 2008 when bylaws were adopted – felt that it was more cost-effective to have a shorter time period to display signage.”

james.sandbrook@opotikinews.co.nz

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