French Supports "District Funding" For Beach Erosion Solutions - What Next?
Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 4:43PM
Bill Barclay

In one of the most revealing statements contained in the highly biased Informer Q & A article published today, Mayoral candidate Peter French made clear that he favoured "District funding of erosion solutions for our Coromandel communities."

This staggering information will come as a great shock to all of us on the West Coast who have been severely disadvantaged in the past by Council decisions to swing away from well established 'user pay - area of benefit' principles that ensure that those who benefit carry the increased rating load. This last happened when our Council decided to make the $94m Eastern Seaboard Wastewater Scheme a District-wide charge.

This has added hundreds of dollars to West Coast rate bills for no benefit - our schemes are all low cost but efficient pond schemes, and became the rationale the subsequent decision during the last term of office to switch to 'District-wide' charging of all the three 'waters' - waste, water, and storm - one that has 'evened the score' to a slight extent, but which will never compensate for the imposition of the ESWS on West Coast rate-payers.  

Councillors at the time had no idea as to eventual cost of the Eastern scheme, and signed up the "District-charge" departure as driven by then CEO Steve Ruru. Every trick in the book was used over time to ensure that this policy could not be reversed, and more lies have been told regarding this policy than any other over the last ten years both by staff and councillors with 'axes to grind.'  

It is outrageous for Peter French to suggest that this policy is appropriate in regard to the inevitable and hugely costly erosion control that will become necessary on the East Coast over the next few years. He states this policy having no idea as to the eventual cost, and in doing so commits West Coast rate-payers to the inevitability of increased rates to meet this burden that to date has always been a 'user-pays' imposition met through Ward targeted rates.

In the extremely unlikely event of a similar situations arising on this coast, it is entirely appropriate for West Coast rate-payers to meet the cost, and decide where those cost lie. It is not the responsibility of those who have prudently purchased homes well away from possible sea-driven erosion, and I for one have never heard any resident on this side of the Peninsula express any other view.

But it has become abundantly clear that those on the firing line on the East Coast have mounted a concerted campaign ever since the long term effects of sea-level rise have become evident to ensure that the costs associated with recovering their amenity are spread - initially over the immediate ratepayer base, and now, over the entire District. 

Just how fair is that? Perhaps Mr French can explain how it is fair for a Thames pensioner to be asked to help pay to the recovery of coastal amenity for multi-million dollar homes on the Eastern Seaboard - firstly at Mercury Bay and Cook's Beach, but subsequently over the entire coast. I don't think so!

This French policy is designed with one objective in mind - to curry Eastern Seaboard votes. Fortunately, Sandra Goudie was far more circumspect in her reply to the question. 

As for the remaining Q & A article - it was designed with one objective - to favour sitting members. The questions were of the 'sitting-duck' variety enabling constant reference to alleged achievements over the past six years, and to support one another in their much vaunted"team" approach. I realise that the Whitianga election is pretty much a foregone conclusion because of incumbent advantage, but the Editor could have demonstrated less bias had he been prepared to ask the awkward questions. and he should have resisted the temptation to print staff criticism made by Fox and McLean - more 'sitting-ducks.'

Sandra Goudie has her work cut out in the Whitianga Ward, but do not write her off. People should closely examine the credentials of the candidates before deciding their votes, consider just what these incumbents have left to offer. Editor Stephen Brosnan has done us a disservice with way in which he has framed this article. That is disappointing because his paper sets the standard in every other respect for this District - c.f. with the pathetic Hauraki Herald. 




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