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Council Meeting 7 August 2013

There were few items of interest in today’s meeting, apart from the usual, and rather pathetic pre-election back-slapping and self-congratulatory excesses – and there is still another meeting to go – could be excruciating. I just don’t know who the nameless critic it is that they are constantly referring to, and who is apparently constantly making false accusations about the performance of the Council. I wish I knew who it was – he/she obviously has knowledge that we should all be privy to.

Actually, they haven't done a bad job at all - they should just get on with it instead of being so resentful of the lack of recognition of their efforts in the wider community, and stop being so sensitive to criticism. Fox wanted the full story "put out there", but it is a bit late for that - the Council advertising ban started on 16 July. 

Area Authority   This occupied quite a deal of time.  There was great deal of jocularity surrounding the misquotation in the Hauraki Herald that claimed that TCDC supported the conversion into a WRC Authority. That of course was the direct opposite of the situation. Mayor Leach claimed that John Tregidga had indicated in a conversation earlier today that he was also opposed to the WRC wide concept, but apparently gave no indication of having changed his position in regard to joining up with TCDC.

Leach further explained that Mayor Vercoe’s objection to any joining with TCDC being based on TCDC’s alleged debt was illogical – he pointed out that Hugh’s stated intention to stand for the WRC was contradictory in the circumstances.  

There was considerable discussion about ‘community of interest’, and how this related to Thames Valley. ‘Catchment’, and community of interest may drive a redefining of boundaries that could result in Matatmata-Piako being split with the Waihou catchment coming in with Hauraki and TCDC. Waihi may end up with Western Bay of Plenty. The Robinsons are clearly wishing for it to be made a major election issue based on the article under their name  that appeared in “Scoop’ yesterday - they appear to favour the 'go it alone' option. 

It was made very clear by Sam Napia that the target date for having the Morrison Low Report on the amalgamation options ready for the first meeting of the incoming Council. This was specifically in order to prevent TCDC being ‘side-lined’ by some other organisation (presumably WRC) ‘pulling the trigger’ after the election by going to the Local Government Commission on its own. It is prudent for TCDC to be equally advanced in having a submission ready should this happen.

But the complete lack of public consultation either at the Regional or local level leaves one gasping. There seemed to be almost total confidence around that table that the Morrison Low Report would support any option, including ‘going it alone’. This option is by no means assured in my books based on the figures that have been made available to date. It cannot simply be justified by the Far North or Wairarapa situations – despite the Robinson's claims to the contrary, both are very different, but it will be interesting to see the conclusions that emerge from the ML investigations.

Not that I am opposed to 'going it alone' - simply that there is a great deal of water to go under the bridge, and the Robinson's claim of "strong public support" needs to be tested after all the information is on the table. Fifteen hundred signatures does not make a concensus. 

Whatever happens, we are certainly likely to see substantial upheaval over the next twelve months - timing relative to next year's election will be critical.

Finances  As indicated in an earlier post, the Report for the 12 months to 30 June contained no surprises, but some of CFO Steve Baker's comments came from 'left field'.

Steve indicated that the practice of carrying forward huge sums of unexpended capex had to come to an end - Hammond was clearly unhappy at the manner in which this reflects badly on management, and he is correct. There will be a revised C/F list brought forward to the 25 September meeting (currently $28m) that will substantially cut projects. What no-one seems prepared to admit is that the level of the C/F is directly related to the failure to establish more realistic revenue levels from almost all sources. This is generally the result of over-optimism, but in this case it seems to be almost standard operating procedure, and changes are needed.

Cr Fox was almost pleading for more publicity about what a good job they had done, but it is a bit late for that - the embargo on council publicity prior to the election commenced on 16 July.

Heritage  This appears to be a major issue in Whitianga where there is a strong reaction to the expert advice on the extent of heritage provided by Dr McEwan. This is in direct contrast to Coromandel where they wish to see more of the town so classified. Thames is stil making up its mind, but as Cr Connors stated at the TCB meeting, if you are going to argue with an expert on these matters, then you need to be able to provide equally qualified advice. That should be interesting in Whitianga where objection to any restriction on development is an anathema. Cr Hoadley, a member of the DPRC, was back-tracking at a fast rate in the face of the vehemence of Crs Fox and McLean, and suggested that a decision on the matter could be delayed until the next meeting on 27 August. That should be interesting. A cost of $200,000 for the advice received to date was mentioned - not substantiated, but probably not far short of the mark.

Snapper  There is certainly no appetite to change the 9 fish limit in this district, and that is reflected, for better or worse in the submision going to the Minister.

Public Excluded  I have requested advice regarding the late items refered to in the previous post - no response as at 6pm on 8 August.




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