Is This An Opening Salvo?
Monday, April 25, 2016 at 12:55PM
Bill Barclay

Readers may (or may not) recall a post back in January relating to Thames Promotions Workshop. Simply enter it into the Search engine to access it. 

Mark Skelding has emerged as a rather belated commenter on this post with the following: (I have brought it forward for convenient reading)

Hi Bill,

You might recall that there was an occasion where a considerable chunk of ratepayer change was allocated to a petrol related event held on private land on the east coast. As a result, a bunch of left-leaners gathered in the GBD. From that came a resolution to have the many events in Thames blessed by similar munificence to enable them to work together better, rather than i the familiar isolation, overwhelm and division that often happens with volunteer groups in this town. You were there.

That meeting led to the council asking ratepayers with their rates bills if they wanted some sort of promotional function for the town and the community answered in the affirmative. I understand that this was achieved within the existing rates envelope.

T3 was part of the GBD event, and championed the support being made primarily available to community groups, on the premise that the more we can make Thames the sort of place we want to live in, the more likely people are to come here from elsewhere. However, as you have mentioned from time to time, community aspiration can be suborned to other objectives. This is true here to the extent that the final job description for this function was in danger of losing sight of this community organisation strengthening objective, and this is why T3 turned up and will continue to do so.

Of course, you may not like the ideas - such as suggesting that if prominence is to be given to developing cycling and walking tracks in the hills, this should be done with a long term aim of making an infrastructure suitable for developing into a non-coastal communications/trasnport network in the event that sealevel rise makes maintenance of the coastal road unaffordable or impractical - but its a good idea that if money is to be raised and spent, then it should be spent in ways that can be multi-useful. The thinking behind the Visitor Solutions interest in the cycleways was that unless Thames finds a reason to link the town to the cycle trail, then the money already invested by TCDC had simply been sent south to benefit Hauraki/Paeroa and beyond.

If you think that trying to shape expenditure in order to achieve long term and multiple outcomes, or ensuring that community groups get better traction, better profile and better funding for their activities is a good idea, I hope you'll encourage your readers to get involved too.

I agree with your implication that outside expertise is often unnecessary, and if such a view is to gain traction then whatever local expertise there is should be identified and included. Who do you think should be in the room? Where are they? How do we get them there? Your thoughts?


 I enjoy a debate with Mark - so here is my reply to the various points he has made: 

Thanks for that Mark – a few months after the event, but welcome nevertheless, ands thank you for bringing attention to some of more outrageous decisions of the present Council.

You ask for my thoughts in relation to the issues you have raised– these are they!

The meeting that T3 called was really unrepresentative in my view and any decision to ask for promotional activities neither practical, nor beneficial to Thames. It fitted precisely into the ‘pie in the sky’ description that I have applied to a great deal of this Council’s activities.

As for the ‘rating envelope’ – that is a joke as there is no such thing. Under Leach’s watch, the ‘fiscal envelope’ has been used in a totally inappropriate manner involving postponed works and manipulated borrowing to enable ‘feel-good’ and legacy projects to be fitted in to the budget.

I am not sure what or who T3 represents – as far as I can see, it is one of those amorphous organisations that emerge from time to time under the particular patronage of one driven individual – in this case that appears to be you. In these circumstances, you need to be very careful to ensure that your ambitions coincide with the majority of rate-payers who pay the bills.

I have seen no evidence of that or that your efforts constitute anything more that the clamour of what is simply another pressure group. And I say this in full knowledge of the munificent praise heaped on you by the current Board Chair – he is of course welcome to his opinion.”

I do not doubt your good intentions for one second – it is simply that I have always been, and remain deeply suspicious of any pressure of this nature after the event – i.e. the tri-ennial election of our democratically elected representatives. Only they can be held responsible at the following election, and the credentials of those who seek to replace them examined in the light of their experience, achievements and spending proposals – revealed during, not after the campaign.

Your sudden suggested conversion of cycling and walking tracks in the hills behind the town into potential lines of communication is certainly a novel, if potentially extravagant solution to a potential problem. It will certainly require a great deal of thought before funding is committed on that premise. As for the link to the cycle trail (I assume you are referring to the Hauraki Rail Trail), I was under the impression that had already been built some years ago – it is just that no-one, or very few use it – more is the pity!

The manifest reasons for the failure (yes, failure!) of the HRT as far as Thames is concerned is a discussion point for another time, but I repeat my statement in the Kerepehi post that tourism is low-wage development, and the danger remains that foreign workers will be required to sustain it – a fact that is hitting home in places like Queenstown – and one that most decision makers appear unwilling to acknowledge.

Despite you and your organisation demanding “promotion,” it simply does not equate with the town’s tourist potential, nor for that matter its development potential – face the facts! Kopu offers limited opportunity that our Council has fluffed around with for six long years.

And no Mark, I am not about to encourage my readers to support anything concerning our Council that involves expenditure beyond core activities – both in the renewal and capital expenditure sense. I would hope that any new Council will restrict ‘nice to have’ expenditure to that which can be proven to be beneficial to the majority of rate-payers, resist further attempts by Central Government to shed responsibility, and further resist ‘knee-jerk’ responses to the demands of pressure groups.

As for outside consultants – I would be pushing for a straight out moratorium of all consultant activity other than that required to assist in controlling day-to day running costs. That would put a ‘cat amongst the pigeons.’  

Those are my thoughts Mark – over to you!  

Mark's sudden emergence as a commenter, and the isues he has raised point to a possible opening salvo in an attempt to improve his election chances, and this may be related to the "Time to Ponder the Future of Thames" post last week. I would certainly expect Mark to again put his 'foot in the water' - whether his views equate any better than before with what is a fairly conservative electorate (Ward) remains to be seen.

Anyone wishing to get their name 'out there' is welcome to use this blog to get their ideas in front of what I believe is a fairly influential readership - I have no way of knowing of course - it is just a feeling.

Probably best to email me your thoughts - I promise to post them unedited (within reason of course!)




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (
See website for complete article licensing information.