A New Plymouth District councillor wants window washers off the streets after an alcohol-fuelled confrontation left a member of the public with cuts to his face.
Two teenagers were arrested during the incident, which occurred during the evening rush hour last night on the corner of Eliot and Leach Streets in the CBD.
Councillor Murray Chong captured the confrontation on his phone. He says it began when a window washer tried to clean a commuter's windscreen without permission.
"He basically said, 'Look, f*** off,' and the window washer said, 'Well f*** you, f*** you, f*** you,' you know what I mean?" says Mr Chong.
"The window washer was saying, 'Bring it on, bring it on,' so you know, it's 5:30pm, the guy's probably had a hard day and he's had enough of it.
"This actually happens on a regular basis, the abuse. I was just lucky to catch it on tape."
In the video, the member of the public – with blood streaming down his face – says he asked the washer kindly to stop, but they refused.
"I put my wipers on and said, 'F*** off mate, I don't want it done.' He's like, 'F*** you, f*** you,' and you can see the result."
- VIDEO: Watch the full clip in the video player above
At the start of the clip, the man who was assaulted is seen talking on a cellphone – presumably to the police – using his free arm to try and restrain a window washer in a grey shirt. A second window washer, wearing a blue shirt, approaches Mr Chong, who's standing nearby and recording the incident on his phone.
"I'm a window washer," he shouts. Mr Chong tells him it's illegal, and the washer tells him, "I put food on my f***ing family's table… I'm drug-free as it is. It's not i-f***ing-legal."
He then strikes Mr Chong's phone. Mr Chong tells the washer that as a district councillor, he's trying to sort out the problem of illegal window-washing. This appears to aggravate the window washer, who repeats his claim of being drug-free, calls Mr Chong a "c***", hits the camera again and shouts, "I'll f***ing kill you".
The window washer in the grey shirt tells Mr Chong to stop filming, while the one in blue is restrained by a couple of others. The police arrive, and the washer in the blue shirt breaks free of his restraint and tackles an officer to the ground. It takes five members of the public to hold him down while he is handcuffed.
About a minute later, the washer in the grey shirt is arrested without causing more of a scene.
Police say the washer in blue is 17, and has been charged with common assault, assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. The washer in grey is 15, has been charged with disorderly behaviour and will likely be referred to Youth Aid.
Once back at the station, the 17-year-old was deemed to be under the influence of alcohol, despite his claims of being drug-free.
Mr Chong says there is a bylaw in place against soliciting business in public without a permit, but over the past couple of years window washers have been ignoring it.
"That morning we were actually discussing between ourselves, what are we going to do with these guys?" says Mr Chong.
"We're currently arranging meetings to sort it out, because if we don't do that then what are we as district councillors?"
"You're not allowed to jaywalk, and they're not only jaywalking, they're soliciting business, so there are so many bylaws already in place that could get rid of them straight away."
Mr Chong says he's not against window washing itself, but would be happy to see it done safely and legally. But anyone thinking about earning a bit of extra cash on New Plymouth intersections in the future shouldn't get their hopes up.
"We've got the days of all these high-vis vests and all this sort of thing on building sites, yet these guys are running in and out of traffic and you can't see them," he says.
"People will say that's their risk, but it's the little old lady who hits one of these guys – she has to live with that for months and you know, it's not right. Unfortunately if you say no, in many cases they just abuse the drivers and it's not right…
"I don't know if we would [approve it] because honestly, they're running in and out of traffic on a state highway – and that there, it would be pretty hard to get a resource consent to do that."