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Community Board struggles to reach any agreement on amalgamation

July 13th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

If the Sunday market argument was a surprise for many at yesterday's Community Board meeting, the other main topic - the Board's approach to the Council amalgamation proposal - certainly was not, and again vigorous debate and interjections from onlookers featured.

It began, unsurprisingly, during the standing-room-only public forum when Phil Peters asked for the Board's view on amalgamation. Board chairman David Ogilvie reiterated a summary of his personal view (which you can read here), and then Richard Easton questioned David's right to express his opinion given his role as a local government leader. John Kelly asked what extra powers the Board would actually (as against what the words say) have under the new proposal.

The Board's view on what to do next was dealt with later as part of the chairman's report. There David recommended, as a starting point, that the Board "make a submission to the Local Government Commission supporting the Draft Reorganisation Scheme, but recommending further powers for community boards and extending the period [for the Board's proposed new powers to be mandated] to at least nine years [rather than six]".

Although no vote was taken initially, it was clear that the phrase "... supporting the Draft Reorganisation Scheme, but ..." did not have general support, particularly from Cr Barry Dowler. Barry said he was very concerned about what he sees as discrepancies and incorrect information in the detailed support documents provided by the LGC, and that corrections need to be made to these facts.

Barry also pointed out that the so-called extra powers were in fact not really powers at all and that there is no provision in law for community boards to exercise real powers of the type envisaged by the proponents of amalgamation. He was backed by Trevor Norriss who interjected forcefully many times from the back of the room and sometimes overriding the chairman's directions. He seemed to believe that his role as District Councillor gave him the right to speak his opinion during the Board meeting.

Board member Mark Chapman said, "This is probably the biggest decision we'll ever have to make as a Board. We need more time to sit down and discuss the issues without outside influences and having to be guarded with our ideas and comments." He suggested a closed meeting in the near future for this purpose so the Board could come up with a position.

Cliff Satherley and Cr Jack Inglis suggested the Board not have a position on amalgamation but rather should concentrate on making recommendations on what would be best for Motueka regardless of the outcome of an amalgamation vote. This assumes that if the vote is "no amalgamation" the Board would still be in a position to make such recommendations as the status quo would remain.

David Ogilvie said we need to try to avoid the same mistakes that were made at the formation of Tasman District in 1989, and so we must work toward a position where the community board is empowered in the scheme to have guaranteed delegations.

The Board finally adopted David's original recommendation, less the words relating to supporting the draft reorganisation scheme, so it read: "The Motueka Community Board make a submission to the Local Government Commission recommending further powers for community boards and extending the period to at least nine years."

Following further interjections, Trevor Norriss left then, saying "I'd better go before I get into any more arguments".

Comment by Trevor Norriss:
[Posted 14 July 2011]

David, I would appreciate if you stuck to the facts, not the fiction, I did not interject once at the community board meeting, but spoke twice at the invitation of the chairman David Ogilvie, [Check with him], the first time to clarify councils role regarding the Bus stop Cafe an issue I had taken the time to get involved in some time ago when the issue first raised its head, I had in fact got a commitment at our last State Highway liaison meeting for a visit to the site with the agency to come up with a commonsense practical solution to the resource consent issues that the agency were concerned about, sadly before this could happen Paul made the decision to stop trading. If he should change his mind on that the offer would still stand.

The second time also at the invitation of chairman David was to clarify a point regarding 'More Power for the Board". The Local Govt Commission does not have the authority to give the board more power, as this would require a change to the Local Govt Act 2002, [David agreed that this is correct, section 52 clearly states this role]. It does however have the power to give the board further delegations as recommended in the amalgamation proposal, if you read what these delegations are the board can then only make recommendations or approve these to Council. The point I was trying to make that if the board is to make a submission asking for more power then that is a waste of time. If they want further delegations than recommended in the Amalgamation Proposal then say that and list what they want. I also made it clear at the start of this that this was regardless of what side of the debate one was.

David, you may also be interested to know that some time ago [approx 18 months] The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and CEO met with the Boards and said that if they wanted to expand their delegations then supply a list and show that is more efficient than existing then council would be only to happy to look at this. We do not need to amalgamate councils to achieve this.

You may or may not also wish to know that from when I was born 1952 I have lived all my life in Motueka or its immediate surrounds, Riwaka, Marahau, Motueka Valley, went to primary and secondary in Motueka, served my apprentice here in a family business, had a partnership in a building business and have been farming in the Valley for the 20yrs and moved back to town [Thorp Street] a couple of years ago. I DO NOT SEE IT AS A RIGHT TO INTERJECT AT MEETINGS, as your article states, but it is my role as a District Councillor to make sure that people debate issues with the correct info in front of them, something the community is about to find out that has not happened in the case of the consultants report to the commission, which many good people regard as factual and are basing submissions on. Comments in the media criticising people who are trying to make sure people have the true information may help sell newspapers or create online comments which is great, as long as they are factual.

Comment by Joe Bell, Golcen Bay:
[Posted 16 July 2011]

The Motueka and Golden Bay Community Boards supplied Draft Delegation lists to Tasman District Council in late 2007. These were based on delegations made to the Kaiapoi Community Board by the Waimakiriri District Council. Two meetings were held in Motueka between Board and council representatives early in 2008. No delegations were offered.

TDC CEO and mayor made a tiki-tour to Southland and Stewart Island 8-15 July 2009 "looking at Community Boards" there. This eventually resulted in a discredited report from the CEO being presented at the 2 September 2010 Council meeting.

This report failed to meet any of the criteria for advice to council from staff. The Golden Bay Community Board asked that it be withdrawn and have its omissions and errors corrected before being presented to the council as a Draft. Council refused this request.

TDC subsequently cynically 'fixed' the problem of staff reports not meeting quality guidelines by removing the criteria from the TDC Code of Conduct.

Elected representatives are employed to represent residents and ratepayers not to become sales people for the council corporation.


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