Activist jumps desk in Nelson council meeting over Lewis Stanton bylaw

A Nelson City Council meeting got heated on Tuesday with a man jumping over a desk after a controversial bylaw was discussed.

The bylaw seeks to address disruption in the city created by homeless man Lewis Stanton, and would include a council permit be required in order to protest.

Stanton, also known as Hone Ma Heke, has lived on the streets for years and is a prolific protester.

The draft bylaw was unanimously passed through to a public consultation phase, but an activist who was attending the public meeting jumped into the middle and would not leave.

The meeting was adjourned by Mayor Rachel Reese while the disruption was dealt with.

Nelson City Council minutes explain that problems with Stanton date back to 2011 and continue to the present, where he occupies a seemingly permanent protest on Trafalgar Street outside a Farmers department store.

He lives and sleeps at the location, including cooking and hanging out his washing there.

The Council says this affects the ambience of the city centre, results in anti-social behaviour, public safety concerns, and causes an accumulation of materials on the footpath.

It also upsets many members of the public and retailers in the area, however some members of the public are supportive of Stanton's actions.

In 2015, the horse-drawn cart Stanton once slept on in the town centre was taken off him.

He has protested various issues for years including a council trespass notice, and has accumulated thousands of dollars of Council fines. 

After a protest clash in late 2016, Stanton was arrested and banned from Nelson - however a judge gave him the all clear and he returned shortly after.

As part of the proposed bylaw, those who want to hold events in the CBD would also need a permit, and sleeping would be prohibited in the CBD.

There will also be regulations on dealing with rubbish in public places, however the Council stresses in drafting the law that "The right to protest is not questioned".