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New Chum's (5) (see alphabetical listing)

The vexed problem of what to do about New Chum’s raised its head yesterday at the regular Council meeting. This follows the decision made during the ‘deliberations’ meeting just the week previous to reject the request to provide $30,000 for the purpose of compiling a “management plan”.

For some strange reason, it managed to get back up on yesterday’s agenda with a late paper from David Hammond reporting a letter and visit from the Preserve New Chum for Everyone Group to have the beach and its environs purchased as a recreational reserve.  I attach the letter dated 18 May – after the deliberations. Talk about having a 'second bite of cherry'.

18 May 2012
Dear Thames-Coromandel District Councillors:
The following is our position in relation to the New Chum (Wainuiototo) proposal:
 We wish to ensure walking access to this iconic beach for all in perpetuity.
 Any hearing in relation to the Coastal Land Trust Holdings should be notified to ensure
transparency and build trust.
 We want to engage constructively with TCDC, Regional Council and central government to find
an enduring solution.
Our Proposal for consideration:
We believe the way forward is to work constructively as an NGO with the Local Council (TCDC),
Waikato Regional Council and government on a collaborative basis.
We would like the land in question to be purchased and designated as a Recreational Esplanade
Reserve.We will be advocating initially for a joint approach in terms of a funding commitment from all parties involved. This could potentially include a ‘land swap’. These negotiations will begin at a later date. We are prepared to fund raise an agreed “in kind“contribution from us, the advocacy group, on receipt
of an Agreement in Principle from the listed parties. To this end we are requesting ‘support in Principle’ from TCDC (and Waikato Regional Council – tabled 2nd April and addressed at WRC meeting 26th April) to the above that we can proceed to Govt to begin broader negotiations and involve other Stakeholders such as DoC, Natural Heritage Fund, Hauraki Gulf Forum, Tourism, etc.
We require support in Principle from our two local authorities then the Developers and other
stakeholders will be included.
Thank you for your consideration.
Grahame Christian Linda Cholmondeley Smith
Chair Spokesperson
Preserve New Chum for Everyone Inc. Preserve New Chum for Everyone Inc.

Mr Hammond is either ignorant of the history surrounding this boondoggle, or else he is a just a soft touch, and open to the emotional claptrap that this group is well known for. Just why he would wish to put his name to this proposal that could involve the Council in a legally enforceable commitment to participate to the funding of the purchase of this grossly over-valued piece of real estate is quite beyond me. And when proposers start talking about "in kind" contributions on their part, we should run a mile.

Does he not understand that the developers are behind the scenes participants in this process of saddling every ratepayer in this District with an unaffordable surcharge on their rates in order to bail out these same developers who now understand that their grand plans will come to nothing if they front for a resource consent for more than a very minimum number of sites in their development plan.  They want out, and they want Government, Regional Council or Local Council – preferably all three to meet their demands based on the dubious valuations that conveniently  overlook the diminished value resulting from the protest action. Bah, humbug is all I can say.

In any case, when the proposal came before Council yesterday, Leitch moved, and Hoadley seconded with alacrity that Hammond’s proposal be adopted:

“That Council agree in principle that it be a funding partner in the purchase of a reserve area for New Chums Beach subject to price, assessment of benefits, commitment of other funding partners to a significant portion, and consultation as appropriate”.

And if that is not an invitation to a party, I don’t know what is.

It led to a most interesting debate – probably the first debate I have seen in eighteen months of this Council. Hoadley spoke first with passion, and very little common sense in favour. Jack Wells then came in with a broadside against the deal on the grounds that it did constitute a financial commitment despite the denials of Leach and Hammond. McLean and Fox said that they agreed with Jack, but believed that there were sufficient “outs” in the agreement to satisfy them, and would vote in favour.  

Brljevich conveniently opted out on the grounds that he was conflicted (his wife is on some committee or other associated with preserving the Beach). Tony always likes to slip out from under when he can, and this was no exception. It had the effect of reducing the votes to eight. French sat on the fence and had a bob both ways, as he does! Then Whitianga Board Chair Allison Henry let fly with a well measured but firm rationale as to why it was unwise to enter into this commitment, including the need to provide associated facilities such as bus-parks at Whangapoua. Leach argued and tried to dominate her, as her does, and she was not having it – great stuff – Allison keeps her powder dry! French then came back in (contrary to standing orders as he has already spoken) and backed Allison.

Before going to the vote, Leach sought assurances from Hammond and Peter Wishart as to the financial risk associated with the motion, words were dropped and added, but the basic tenet remains - the Council is entering into an agreement that may come back to bite in the future. These people are not suckers – they are hard edged business peoples who are determined to get their way on this sale, and they don’t just want the 300m of beach reserve to be preserved – they want the whole site including all the degraded farm-land at the rear that that was slated for sub-division.

Mr Darby and friends are not stupid – they realise that the value of their $5m purchase that they value at around $25m is not going anywhere in today’s climate unless they can get the Council aboard – that is what it is all about, and previous valuations have failed to recognise that its value has diminished immeasurably as a result of the protest action. They cannot dispose of it in any way without taking a No. 1 haircut, or without the three Governments aboard.  

Then came the vote, and chaos erupted as Hoadley demanded a division. Four in favour – Leach, Fox, McLean and Hoadley, and four against – French, Wells, Connors and Bartley. On the advice of Hammond, Leach first ruled himself out of a casting vote in accordance with the old Standing Order rule  3.14.2, thus preserving the status quo, but following loud interjections from Hoadley, this position was reversed to allow his casting vote. This followed hurried reference to the Model Standing Orders by Hammond and Lynlee Baily (Council Secretary). It was all kosher, but revealing of widespread ignorance of Standing Orders. Leach exercised his casting vote, and the motion was carried.

Thought I would outline this in detail, because it reveals a great deal about our Council and councillors.




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Reader Comments (4)

What a complete shambles. There is no way Council shuld be involved in buying this for reserve, because it is not predominantly benefiting the local / district ratepayer. The reason to lock this land up relates to its national significance as one of the few "unmodified" beach landscapes in NZ, in the same way Cathedral Cove is. As such it should come back to the Crown to take the steps to ensure purchase is made and the land is secured for future generations for all New Zealanders. TCDC should also vest the reserve it already owns in the area back to the Crown. What is a "Recreational Esplande Reserve"? If reserved it should be as a scenic reserve, which is the most appropriate category under the Reserves Act. The way Council can get on board is by stipulating in the subdivision consent that significant portions of the land be vested to the Crown as scenic reserve as mitigation of the effects. As for standing orders, dont let those get in the way of getting shit done!!

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDream On

The one great thing of being free of not upsetting the powers that be is that now one has all the dirty washing and the luxury of being able to comment, free and unfettered. When John Darby was first sniffing around the peninsula I called a meeting with Steve Ruru and Chris Lux to aquaint them of the "Queenstown Developers" methodology in dealing with councils. To reinforce the issue I facilitated a council trip to Noosa where their council had experienced similiar issues and had evolved a successful set of policies to deal with developer pressures. The Noosa Council pulled out all the stops and gave two days of their senior staff time to our group. However, apart from Steve, it seemed the rest was all good fun and now we have a situation that could possibly have been headed off early.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Archibald

It should be noted that the Council has a adopted a standard form of Standing Orders (called "New Zealand Standard Model Standing Orders") This standard version requires that if a Mayor casts a normal vote, then he does not have an additional casting vote. The logic behind this is to prevent any elected member from effectively having two votes.

When they were first elected, our Council, as a result of a staff initiative, voted to modify this condition to allow the Mayor and the Chair of any Council meeting) a normal vote and a casting vote.

The fact that most of the Council, including the Mayor, did not even realise they had done this speaks volumes!

But regardless of their ill-advised (and mostly) and urealised action, convention dictates that a casting vote only be used to ensure the status-quo. By not even knowing about or understanding that convention, the mayor and most Councillors have indicated a complete lack of knowledge about how to creditably run a meeting.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDal Minogue

Like Jim, i can claim diplomatic immunity as I am not currently living in NZ [just shows the international fame of Barclays blogs], but people have short memories - remember when the TCDC under Mayor Thompson [with Leach on board] bought the dunes at Otama to save it from the clutches of developers- what an asset for our country and locals alike - so there is a precedence to be involved with the salvaging of something about New Chums- if all the people who badgered councilors last time or those who expressed 'love of the beach' all gave $100.00 each we could do something to buy back a piece of the Peninsula - maybe Denize's may wish to cleanse their conscience and give some of the $5m to the cause??
good ol' Lux and et al - junket trips that bore no benefit - and as for Councillors not knowing the rules around debate - what did you really expect when the current Mayor pays scant regard to the rules - to wit allowing nonelected members [virtually members of the public] to chair Council meetings - yeah right

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterState of Johor

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