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AP Hearings - Mayoral Forum

Hugh Vercoe – Mayor of Matamata Piako, came representing those elements in the Mayoral Forum concerned about the maverick attitude being displayed by our Mayor towards the Forum.

In particular, Hugh was expressing the general disappointment at our Council having refused to date to participate, and contribute to the development of a Waikato Strategic Plan, and investigation into the manner in which further savings may be achieved over and above those already nailed down through the Regional Services on solid waste in particular. The Forum is contemplating a whole range of shared services in regard to roads, water and wastewater etc. – utilising joint management contracts.

The MF is suggesting a TCDC  contribution of some $120k towards the $1.5m exercise (Hauraki - $45k), and the employment of Waikato University academics to undertake the review.

Talk about “red rag to a bull’ – our councillors sat fuming as Hugh wandered on into ‘never never’ land, apparently with little or no understanding of local sensitivities that make the likelihood of such a collaboration highly unlikely.

For starters, there is the small matter of Mayor Glenn’s inability to even obtain a seconder for his motion at the last forum for the concept of a Region wide Unitary Authority to be rejected even though several mayors had earlier, or later indicated their support for such a motion – even Hugh is opposed to the concept, but thought Glenn’s motion “premature” – bollocks! A seconder would have opened debate – that is all Glenn wanted (I think!). To refuse him that  irreparably damaged his status, and I am sure he felt ridiculed – it was a childish, immature action on the part of the other mayors that will not be quickly forgiven, either by Glenn or his councillors.

Then there is the question of the amount being sought to undertake the review ($1.25m) without any structure or spatial plan in place – in other words a sort of open-ended boondoogle for which we have become far too familiar.

Thirdly (and this really hurts!) – there is no mention anywhere in the proposal regarding tourism – it is as if it is not recognised as in any way important by the bureaucrats in Hamilton. Hugh was extremely defensive on this issue saying in affect that because it was not in did not mean that it would be excluded from the study.He did appear somewhat embarrassed nevertheless.

Finally, the suggestion that Waikato University be contracted to undertake the study was almost the last straw – after their stuff up on growth rates that provided the justification for the over designed Eastern Seaboard wastewater schemes, there is little regard around this Council for Waikato University boffins.

Altogether, Hugh was wasting his time, and while jocularity was the order of the day, I think even he realised that he was pushing it uphill as he concluded his presentation, and departed amidst more than a little huffing and puffing on Mayor Leach’s part.  



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