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Council Meeting - 13 May 2015

You could describe it as a 'light' agenda. Leach was absent following an operation on his foot, and we consequently experienced a meeting under Peter French’s chairmanship as it should be conducted, absent of bullying, capriciousness, and over bearing behaviour. Well done Peter – he has come a long way over the last year or two in terms of the role he plays in this Council - he has ceased ‘working the gallery’ as was his wont at the outset.


It was looking as if we may get some excitement at the outset when staff had decided to put up Ms Jane Beck’s appeal against their decision not to allow anti-fluoride signage to go up at eight strategic points around the town, two months before the proposed referendum later this year.

They had figured without Peter French who correctly pointed out that it was a Parks and Reserves matter that should be dealt with by the Community Board who should make a recommendation to Council. Accordingly, the item was withdrawn from the agenda at the last moment. If staff imagined for one moment (the Chief Executive is well known for the support that he has given the antis both here and previously in Ruapehu prior to the removal of fluoride in Tauramanui), that this would be the end of it, then they should think again.

The powerful pro-fluoride lobby was well primed and ready to counter Ms Beck and her cohort who threatened another stand-over session during public forum this morning.   The matter has now been set down as a late item for the Community Board next Monday, with quite possibly a further stand-off. If Strat thought for one moment that he had managed to kick the matter upstairs to Council, then he has misjudged it. 

The reason that it has reached this stage is precisely because of his earlier vacillation and weakness, and Council’s consequent exasperation with the “fluoride is genocide” group. It bought itself a fight that it will eventually regret, and this signage issue is just the beginning.   

Arts Strategy

It was interesting to note that Ben Day very nearly had his comeuppance today in the absence of his Mayoral sponsor. Without his protection, Day was attacked firstly in a minor way over his request for another $12,000 to employ another consultant to write another strategy - before 30 June – this time on arts policy. This did not please many around the table – Fox in particular. Connors correctly pointed out that it was no different to writing strategies for youth, and the disabled.

Day pointed out that the project had already started, but no one picked up on that as should have happened. He claimed that Central Government grants were unavailable without a strategy, and opposition died.

Automobile Association Agency

This was second occasion when he nearly came adrift – again and firstly by Fox who objected to Council taking on what looked like a money losing venture, even if only short term (one year!) But the main shafting came from Bob Renton who led the charge on the basis of too little information. He completely rubbished the proposal, and was immediately backed up by Bartley, and others. 

Goudie attacked Day mercilessly over absent information, and he looked somewhat put out – he is quite unused to this measure of hostility, and his rather arrogant demeanour was somewhat shattered. Finally, staggeringly came Strat’s contribution - half the time you do not have a clue what he is talking about, and neither does he I suspect. I thought he had earlier supported the proposal, but today he rushed to support Renton. Thames would be immeasurably worse off without the facility, and yet Strat wanted to quibble over a few dollars that it may cost, when there is no available option.

Fortunately, Connors spoke well and decisively along with Brljevich, and French splendidly shut down the ridiculous circular argument - it went through unanimously. Sometimes you have to wonder why they perform in this manner. Day looked somewhat relieved.

Cemetery Bylaw

Contrary to my earlier interpretation about the natural burial recommendation, it was agreed that further work be done to identify suitable sites in each operating cemetery, but random siting would not be allowed – so further work to be done.

“The Barclay Report”

Fox asked the question – where is it? Baker replied that he had run out of time, so it is all on for the next meeting when Leach will be present to drive up the tempo, and make sure that I 'get what is coming.' But what he did reveal was that the Auditor General had refused to provide costing information on the grounds that it was “all part of the democratic process” – fancy that! What a pity that this truth has not yet filtered through to our Mayor.

As for the Ombudsman complaint – Baker indicated that Day is still working on it. Again, what a pity he does not devote the time replying to the complaint that is now eighteen months old.

But what Baker did indicate was that the cost of his staff dealing with my complaint was in the order of $4-5,000. That indicates that they are either incompetent, or grossly over-paid – take your choice. The HH turned up today for the first time in over a year, but left when nothing happened – could that possibly have been engineered – perish the thought!   




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