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Economic Development Committee Meeting

An interesting meeting from a number of angles. In the first place French was away, subbed by Goudie which of course added spice, but not much else. The following is out of agenda order. 

Business Broker

No conflicts of interest declared, but one occurred when G. Christian announced that he favoured the extension of Len Whittaker’s (Eze Civil Engineering) contract as the “Business Broker” because:

“He assisted a business associate of mine to secure favourable arrangements for the leasing of the balance of the property that I (G Christian) lease at Kopu," and he voted accordingly.

I suspect that G Christian simply does not understand the meaning of Conflict of Interest, and someone should sit him down and explain it. This was a blatant transgression, and he should know better. No one at the table appeared to blink an eyelid, but I suspect that Leach would have known full well that Christian had ‘crossed the line.’ Brent Page looked oblivious, but frankly his chairing skills leave a lot to be desired – too indecisive! As for Christian, I have previously indicated the potential conflict of interest risk that he poses to this Committee, and I continue in that view. 

On that score, it was interesting that Goudie objected strongly to the extension of the Eze (Len Whittaker) contract (six months @ $1,650 per week) She quite correctly pointed out that this was work that should be being done ‘in-house’, and that there had been no rationale presented to justify extending the contract. I agree – this is simply another boondoggle to disguise staff numbers by taking them ‘off the table’!

I bet my bottom dollar that Len Whittaker has never been counted as a ‘staff member,’ – he has always to my knowledge been ‘under the radar’ as a contractor – and there have plenty of others in the same position, all merrily signing TCDC letters, with titles no less!

But everyone else around the table thought it was a great idea, and that Len had done a good job easing the way for developers and investors. And yet they still have large numbers of new appointees doing what is described as ‘business’ work associated with project management etc. It really is a shambles in this regard – a typical bureaucratic nightmare dreamt up by Day, encouraged by Leach.

We are heading relentlessly down the path of council as developer, regardless of their protestations to the contrary. Goudie needs to up her game and take these people on when her B/S detector tells her that there is a ‘fix’ in!

Heritage Region     

She did stand her ground on the Heritage Region issue when it was discussed, and Day sought to get a totally redundant resolution through regarding the formulation of a 'Project Definition.' (Interesting sidebar here – Hammond indicated that he thought it was “well under way, or nearing completion.” Day on the contrary indicated that it had not even started!)

Why such a resolution was necessary was not explained (possibly some MBA assignment Day is doing!) – they already have the go-ahead to “investigate the possible establishment of a CHR” – why on earth is he now trying to entrench the whole thing with these ‘supportive’ resolutions. All typically Day I am afraid. Goudie did not like it a bit and managed to get an extension in about it (the “project definition”) being brought back to Council for approval. Leach went along with that – he was visibly trying to avoid a ‘stand-up’ with Goudie.

But to finish, Connors managed to get agreement, off resolution, that the PD would incorporate “other options” – I hope that was recorded because Day appeared unhappy about it and caught on the hop. But it was stated, and agreed to – end of story! Don’t let it rest Dianne, just because it is not in the minutes.

Great Walks 

The discussion evolved into a wide-ranging ramble (ex. pun!) from Leach about the possible extension to other of the Great Walks around the Peninsula. My eyes were watering by the time he had finished, and it all sounded so promising, and ‘just around the corner.’ More and more I see Leachy making his post-Mayoral bed, and adding a duvet or two just in case. The extent of the walks appears limitless, and potential costs stupendous. I hope everyone is listening.

But then he made a correction to the suggested Governance Group plan that had been presented to Council. He now wants there to be four members (TCDC 2, DoC 1, & Ngati Hei 1), no casting vote, and 75% agreement (3 out of 4) on all proposals.

That was an interesting clarification of Ngati Hei’s 'power' under the proposed Settlement Co-governance arrangements. He subsequently mentioned the possibility of other than Ngati Hei being involved when working other areas, but still one only tangata whenua vote. Mmmmm…. – that has some fish hooks in it that may not go down too well with Ngati Tamatera, and Ngati Maru. Leachy better watch his step otherwise his old mate David Taipari will be down on him like a ton of bricks.

Ross Ashby (sorry - ID problem!) who presented on this in the absence of Garry Towler was told to get a meeting of the Governance Group organised before the all-important community meeting on 27 November to 'approve' the change. By the way, this meeting has taken on a new significance emphasised by Leach even though Brent Page inferred that they were only “a small bunch of Hahei people.” He may have underestimated the unity of Hahei in this matter, and they all better have their ‘ducks in a row’ on that day.

Leach was demanding confirmation of all the Lees Road carpark arrangements before that date – about which Ashby did not appear totally confident. Page demanded to know about “fulfilment.” But they still have not settled on price, location, legal arrangements or anything else it would seem. (Cost of sealing Lees Road for example!) Leach emphasised that this carpark was key to the whole deal going ahead, so I can understand his apprehension. I intend to be at that meeting come hell or high water – it will be chaired by the Hahei group, so I don’t anticipate any problem in that regard.

Just a final note – John Gaukroger is about to plant the Blowhole environs – Goudie expressed considerable scepticism about tree planting at this stage of the year, and I agree – Ross Ashby appeared sanguine, but I do wonder how much he knows about local conditions.

All in all, there would appear plenty to think about!

Coromandel Harbour

That was about it for the ‘open’ agenda. They then went into ‘public excluded’ for the  next instalment of the ‘Coromandel Harbour Update’ mystery.  I wonder how Goudie coped with that, though I guess she already knows what went down at the 16 September Council. They will have to come out in open eventually – I just hope that that when that happens, they have not made commitments before actual public consultation takes place.

I don't know about you, but my trust is being stretched!




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Reader Comments (3)

Well done Sandra Goudie for questioning the rollover of yet another contract for Len Whittaker who has been in the fold at TCDC for some time now as a contractor fulfilling the role of what permanent TCDC staff should be setting up and doing. It is not just the weekly fee of $1650 add to that the travel which is estimated over 6 months as being $38k, if a staff member was doing this no travel expense would be involved, as pool cars would be used where away from the Castle.

Christian blatantly demonstrated a conflict of interest - should not be tolerated.

this is an absolute circus the behaviour that is going on here!

September 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnon

Who is Ross Pennington? Hes had no involvement with the Coastal walk governance group at all. As for Len Whittaker, he has never actually worked as a paid employee for Council, but I daresay hes positioning himself to take over from Sam Marshall, or at least as a short term contractor. As for the $1650, he does other jobs for TCDC than just this one - this is only part of the pay packet!!

September 29, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersailing away

What a bloody rort.
Cannot even believe Christian would make that statement in a public meeting.
Seriously, what is going on under Leach's watch?
Len Whittaker --nice guy but at what price?

September 30, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRed Alert

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