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Poor attendance at draft annual plan talks

March 27th, 2013
[by David Armstrong]

There were more councillors and council managers than Motueka ratepayers at the Annual Plan question and answer meeting at Memorial Hall last night.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne presented the draft annual plan to fewer than 10 people attending, and answered questions and complaints, drawing on several council staff to help out with specifics.

Some of the questions put to him included council's debt management strategy, the priorities of the major projects concerning water supplies, what next for Motueka's stopbank engineering, the re-starting of the library replacement project, and what was seen as excessive and expensive council communications.

During the afternoon the room housed a similarly small number of ratepayers more informally discussing their views of the annual plan with councillors and council staff.

At the evening meeting council's head librarian Glennis Coote spoke passionately about the need for Motueka to have a modern library of an appropriate size for the area's expected population in 20 years, and said that council intends to get the planning for the replacement library right and use local knowledge better this time.

This follows the change to the draft annual plan to defer the library building project for a year while up to $25,000 is spent preparing a workable plan for its siting and facilities, the council having realised that the previously commissioned plan could not have worked.

Glennis said the new libraries at Takaka and Richmond have shown how important libraries are to the health and heart of communities, and that Motueka also needs to have such a facility.

With respect to the stopbanks project, $5 million last year had been placed in the 10-year Long Term Plan to be spent on making them more resilient, which was down from the $14m deemed necessary to rebuild them properly.

Council now wants to defer starting to spend that money and instead spend $30,000 next year to fund investigation work into how that $5m could best be spent.


Comment by William Cleaver:
[Posted 31 March 2013]

More Councilors than ratepayers. One has to ask the public why no interest in what happens to your town. This seems to be a regular occurrence, not just for councillor meeting but just about any event that happens in Motueka.

The Arts Council meeting at the beginning of March had no more than 15 people, three of which were the committee. Now in a town that has probably more artists than spectators for a world cup rugby match this is appalling. The Arts council are busting there butts to ensure all artist get the best exposure and chance to learn. Hello anyone out there !!!!!

The TDC spends millions of your money annually for your benefit (subject debatable) and you can't be bothered finding out where it goes. Many years of bagging the TDC for one thing or another by myself and the community has fallen on deaf ears, but then I wonder which faction is actually deaf. If you don't attend the meetings with the option to speak up well then.

One predominant member of our community told me once that the people of Motueka want everything piped directly to their living rooms I'm beginning to believe this.

Comment by John Westall:
[Posted 31 March 2013]

It may not have occurred to Mr. Cleaver, that many ratepayers did not attend the l.t.p meetings because they knew it would be a waste of time, as the T.D.C will inevitably do what it wants, regardless of what the helpless ratepayers have to say.

The only way out of this situation, would be for Motueka to revert to "Borough Council" status, but unfortunately can't see that happening any time soon.

Comment by (name withheld but known to Motueka Online):
[Posted 6 April 2013]

So there I was on Thursday, 28 March, opening the weekly paper the postie just dropped off, and I see the latest TDC Newsline flyer. On the front page in big letters it says: 'Tasman's Draft Annual Plan -- Your chance to be heard'.

Brilliant!, I say to myself. I'm a conscientious Motueka resident, and I don't get heard enough, especially at home. Then I notice the date of the Motueka hearing - 26 March. This presents a slight problem as regretfully my time-travel DeLorean is at the shop - again. I wonder if Richmond residents have theirs working, since their hearing date is also already history.

Yes, the Draft Annual Plan itself was sent out the week before, but you had to read through 21 pages of small print before on the very last pages you'd finally see the hearing schedule. How many people had the time, in the middle of preparing for Easter and the annual influx of annoying relatives, to digest the entire Draft Plan? In between shopping for chocolate eggs and cooking for critical aunt Maggie from Auckland?

I'm not naive enough to think that there would have been two hundred residents at the hearing had the communication been better. Motueka residents cannot, as a form of popular sport, blame the council for everything (including possibly the recent drought) if they themselves don't make the effort to become more vocal.

That said, was I the only one thinking that when you looked at the front page of the flyer, 29 March issue, listing the hearing you're urged to attend scheduled for 26 March, it looked like something published decades ago in communist Russia? ('We are sorry, comrade Krivonogov, but it seems you missed Our Great Leader's hearing. Do other hearing for you, you asking? Nyet!! Perhaps you looking for trouble, comrade?...).

Sarcasm aside, can we get this a little better communicated next time? Let's put the hearing schedule on the cover page of the draft plan, or even on the flyer the week before.

Comment by Shirley Frater:
[Posted 8 April 2013]

Maybe some of us know that even if we are vocal it all falls on deaf ears. It would be interesting to know how many things are changed after the public meetings. Or is it a chance for us to hear what they are doing anyway? The timing is usually done so it is difficult to consider challenges.

Comment by Ron Nuttall:
[Posted 28 April 2013]

I fully understand the loss of public interest in the Annual Plan process. Since the grouping of activities it is impossible to know the costs and recoveries or in some cases where the subsidies or the amount of subsidies come from.

Our elected representatives agreed to the change in format of the Annual Plan. A change that in my view takes away from the ratepayer the ability to see the true costs and recoveries of individual services.

Presented to council by staff:

Pros and Cons and Evaluation of Options

Option (a) Adopt the attached Groups of Activities (with or without amendment)

6.1 The proposed groups of activities provides for reporting of the mandatory groups of activities, groups similar activities together and reduces the number of activities thereby contributing to reducing the size of the LTP and assisting with making the document more readable.

6.2 This option is recommended as the preferred option.

Option (b) Retain the Groups of Activities currently in the Ten Year Plan 2009 - 2019

6.3 Some minor changes would be required if this option was adopted to meet the mandatory reporting requirements, but Council could still continue to report at a more detailed level than set out in option A. This has the advantage of providing more detail to the public, for example there would be five sets of financial reports both the Environment and Planning and Community Services. However given the additional reporting that the LTP is required to have, compared to the Long Term Plan 2009-2019, the full LTP would possibly be in excess of 800 pages. This more pages the less readable the LTP will be.

6.4 This option is not recommended.

Even though quote "This has the advantage of providing more detail to the public, for example there would be five sets of financial reports both the Environment and Planning and Community."

Our elected representatives accepted the recommendation to provide. LESS detail to the public. Less details than in Annual Plans prior to the change. To state that there would be five sets of financial reports is a red herring as this is exactly as it was in previous years

It is also of concern when questions on the grouped activities fail to or cannot be answered by those who write the plan.

It would be interesting to know if councilors themselves understand the plan or just follow staff recommendations?

Is this the Annual Plan, a democrartic process, less the democracy? The above makes it impossible to present an informed submission.

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