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  • Matt Rilkoff - Taranaki Daily News

Hawke's Bay battler for the little people

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For Grant McLachlan, saving Battiscombe Tce's gardens is just one more battle in his campaign to stand up for the little guy.

The Hawke's Bay-based professional planner and qualified lawyer travelled to New Plymouth on Tuesday to make a submission against the removal of 12 gardens encroaching on New Plymouth District Council reserve land on Waitara's Battiscombe Tce.

The gardens had been due for removal yesterday.

Mr McLachlan's submission questioned whether the council had followed correct procedure for the removal and led to it ordering a report on the issue before taking further action.

The report, to be considered by the Waitara Community Board, could take up to two months to prepare. "I was very badly bullied when I was young. When I see it happening I step in with a total lack of self preservation. It is a natural instinct to help people who have been backed into a corner and this is exactly what has happened here," he said.

For Mr McLachlan, 33, it was hearing a few words about the gardens' imminent removal on current affairs programme Campbell Live that brought him to Waitara.

"I heard them say the case was "clear cut" and I thought, hold on, nothing is ever that simple." His submission at the council meeting was not his usual approach as he preferred to stay in the background, he said.

But for Battiscombe Tce residents' spokeswoman Debbie Chamberlain the free expertise was a lifeline. "We didn't know what else we could have done and now we have two months' reprieve at this stage. He told us to wait and see what the council does first before we do anything else."

While the reprieve could let resident vegetable gardener Don Kirkwood, 77, keep his encroaching patch for up to two months, he said there was little he could grow in that time.

He had already removed all of his vegetables except a few silverbeet and a lettuce his neighbour used to feed her rabbit.

Meanwhile, the car-proof fence along the reserve in front of the encroaching gardens is due to be completed within the next week.

Residents' requests to fence the reserve to stop hoons driving their cars through it was the issue that initially brought the 12 encroachments to the council's attention.

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