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May 22, 2014 | by  | in Homepage News |
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Council Dragged Feet on Pathway

TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with an account of sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.

The Wellington City Council had approved the installation of better lighting and CCTV on the Boyd-Wilson path prior to Easter’s attacks, after an earlier attack in March, but did neither.

From information obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, Salient can reveal that lighting on the path was not improved for over a month after the first of three assaults earlier this year, despite the WCC agreeing to it.

CCTV was also approved for installation, but was not installed. After the two attacks on consecutive nights over Easter, cameras were installed within three days.

23 March – A female student was assaulted on the pathway.

25 March – Ian Hibma, Security Manager at the University, emailed Paul Glennie, the Team Leader of Strategic Planning at the WCC, saying he wanted to install security cameras along the path but would need technical assistance from the Council.

Paul Glennie emailed back, supportive of installing CCTV. He said that the Council had replaced all the lighting along the path as VUW-installed lighting had not been working. He also said he would “look at increasing the wattage of the light nearer to the handrail.” He then said he was away from Friday 28 March to Easter, but was “happy for VUW to proceed with installing a camera.”

8 April – Emma McGill, Safety Advisor for the WCC, contacted Wellington Electricity seeking permission to install cameras along the path. She said that “there is some sense of urgency in this request as we are coming under some pressure to facilitate this on behalf of the university.”

10 April – McGill was told by Wellington Electricity that the installation of cameras had been previously signed off, but that a private network between the existing camera on one pole and the proposed new camera on another pole was not permitted as “Chubb/VUW are not utility operators and are not party to any ongoing commercial relationship re pole.”

10 April – McGill emailed Hibma, Rainsforth Dix, the Police, Chubb security, Te Aro School, Jenny Bentley and others, updating them on security measures along the path. At the action point “boost current lighting”, which was the responsibility of the WCC, she wrote that “Paul Glennie (lighting) is currently away but will be done on his return (has already been agreed to)”.

On the action point of “installing CCTV”, she wrote that “permission… was signed off long ago so it can be fixed at any time… Only thing that cannot be done is a wire connecting the pole. However this can be worked around with use of a wireless system.”

In the early hours of 19 April – A woman was sexually assaulted while using the path. On 20 April, a second woman was sexually assaulted while using the path. Both managed to escape, and gave similar descriptions of their attacker.

23 April – Following media attention, lighting along the path was improved, and CCTV was installed.

Salient has contacted the WCC for comment as to why CCTV and improved lighting was not installed, despite it having been approved. At this stage, we have been unable to reach them for comment.

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  1. Richard MacLean says:

    Just to clarify a couple of issues: this breathless Salient piece is comprehensively incorrect and misleading – which shows the dangers of trying to write a story based only on emails sourced from an official information request. What this story completely fails to explain is that the lighting on the Boyd-Wilson pathway has been progressively improved over several years and that CCTV cameras have also been in place for a number of years. The Council did not ‘approve’ the installation of any CCTV cameras – it is not our role to regulate the installation or operation of CCTV cameras on private property – ie Victoria University land. So in other words, this story either accidentally or deliberately tries to blame the Council for something in which it is not directly involved.
    There have been problems with the operation of the CCTV cameras – and the Council has helped where it can to sort out these problems (and help with the installation of another camera in the past few weeks) but ultimately the cameras are not owned or operated by the Council.
    In early October 2013 we upgraded the existing flood light combinations with 2 LED lights at each end of the pathway. These have a wide lighting ‘spread’ conducive to their location and purpose. On the middle section of the path we also upgraded the lighting.
    At the same time we installed two new lights on the steps from the Te Aro School driveway down to The Terrace which augmented a street light already in place and replaced lights installed by VUW some years ago which had been vandalised.
    We also installed a rubbish bin to tidy the area (at the request of Te Aro School). We also donated a floodlight to the school in order to light the car park – although issues in securing a power supply from the streetlight circuit delayed its “going live” – it now runs off the school supply and works nicely.
    After the assault in March we met with the school, university, Police and the family of the woman involved and came up with a list of further improvements. These were all implemented within several weeks of that assault.
    The area is now well-lit – it easily exceeds the New Zealand Standard on pathway lighting.
    Since the Easter assaults we have again gone back to the area and cut down or cut back a number of trees to further reduce shadowing – to allow light to cover more of the area.
    According to your headline we have been ‘dragging our feet’ over improvements to this pathway – as I have indicated above this is simply not the case and Salient is doing its readers a disservice by running such a lazy and ill-researched story.
    Richard MacLean – Wellington City Council

    • Auckland says:

      Hi Richard,
      Is it correct that lighting was identified as a priority on the path after the March assault and approved for installation, but wasn’t installed until after the second round of attacks because the relevant staff member was away on holiday?
      Cheers

  2. Richard MacLean says:

    No that’s not correct – see my comment above.

  3. Bro! says:

    I can tell you from personally being involved in the drive to make this a safer place, the Council did drag their feet. The lighting issue was raised with the council immediately after the March incident to which the response was dismissive and council members initially refused to take accountability for improving this area. The Boyd Wilson Pathway is not Victoria University land, it is a combination of Te Aro School (MED) and Council-owned land. Admittedly, once the council members were brought in to a meeting with the key stakeholders, they did carry out the suggested measures to ensuring the pathway is safer however, there were 2 further attacks in that time.

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