Boat Ramp Fees (3)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 9:43AM
Bill Barclay

I am moved to again draw attention to the utter stupidity of Council in having "suspended" boat ramp fees throughout the District at its 8 December meeting.

This was done in the face of extreme pressure by two councillors in particular - Tony Fox and Murray McLean, who without regard to the flow on consequences at Whangamata and Sugar Loaf, persuaded fellow councilors to support "suspension". In each of these situations, ramp (parking) fees have been in place for years and revert to the Community Boards to enable maintenance and enforcement costs to be covered. Maintenance, including dredging costs will now have to covered by each Community Board from general rates.

Without enforcement, confusion and anger now prevails at both these sites while boaties come to terms with this new regime. Councilor Wells's plea in the Coastal News for fellow boaties to keep paying voluntarily shows just how ridiculous the situation has become. At Sugar Loaf, with the annual influx  from outside the district, the lack of parking enforcement is causing mayhem.  All because of campaign promises by Eastern councilors. 

There is a palpable sense of entitlement widely evident within the boating community that appears to result from what they claim is a majority of ratepayers who own boats. Never mind the "minority" who don't - they just have to pay up through their rates for the pleasures of the "majority". They are in any case wrong - the figure is more like 20%, but never let the truth interfere with a good story!

That councilors should have allowed themselves to be taken in and "rolled" by two or three of their colleagues who have a vested interest in boating is shocking enough. What remains to be seen is just how the Auditor General will regard the participation of these same boat owner/councilors in the vote to "suspend" the charges.  I hope they are well prepared to defend their actions. The sins of the former Environment Canterbury farmer/councilors who participated in an insignificant vote on water allocations in that District look relatively mild by comparison.

Pre-determination, and pecuniary interest are two very important principles that new councilors would do well to study, and hopefully understand over the holidays.


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