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Friday
Sep222017

Council Meeting Tuesday

There has been so little activity in the public arena of late that one is entitled to wonder if our Council even exists, let alone carries out public good on our behalf. And our Commincations Team churns out nothing but pap. Word on the street is that Chief Financial Officer Steve Baker resigned last Friday - I wonder what lies behind that?

District Plan

I was reminded of just how beholden we are to the needs, and petty positioning of our Eastern Coast confreres when I read a submission by our house solicitor - now Legal, Audit and Risk Group Manager, Paul Davies - he has obviously received promotion. In it he points out the slow movement towards settlement of the appeals against the proposed District Plan.

"Whilst significant progress has been made during the mediations the Court has been consistent in expressing a strong desire to resolve all appeals with haste. At the prehearing conference the Court made orders directing that the parties begin the planning forunresolved matters to be set down for hearings. However in the case of the often interrelated appeals to the coastal environment line, outstanding natural features, natural character, biodiversity, subdivision, rural and miningprovisions the Court has agreed to a further and final mediation".

Davies goes on to explain that the costs incurred to date total $1.76m, incuding $288k on staff, $220k on consultants, $120k on overheads, and $1.146m on legal expenses. And remember that almost the entire range of appeals relate to property owners on the Eastern Seaboard. These are the people who are concerned about their "coastal envirionment line," and "outstanding natural features," and as it happens most of the other issues as well.

It is remarkable that once again, we on the West Coast are once again being "sucker-punched" through rates in regard to meeting this cost in order to preserve what are mainly the perceived property values of Easterners. 

Coromandel Walkway

Then we have the unbelievable Resource Consent Applications for the Te Ara o Hei (Coromandel Walks) Project. It seems that we have been hearing about this now for months if not years, and that months if not years of planning remain to be completed.

They have come to to Council now with a Paper by Sam Napia who now apparently has the designation  Director, Strategic Relationships and Projects.

It is now proposed to break the project into four:

  • Stage 1A, track existing village entrance car park at Pa Road in Hahei Village to the Blow Hole;
  • The Lees Road car park, kiosk and associated works, including the central track;
  • Stage 1B, the western (Carter) track andthe walking track along Lees Road through to Stella Evered reserve to the Purangi estuary; and,
  • Stage 1(C), track from Purangi to Ferry Landing

All very well, but notice that after all this time stuffing about, that they still have no idea how they are going to deal with the Purangi Crossing - always the weak point in the whole proposal from the time it was first mooted.

So now, thay are proposing four consents, and no crossing, which will of course provide the greatest difficulty in completing the link.

Many staff have been deeply involved in getting this ill-thought out project to this point, and I remain as skeptical as I was at the outset as to their ability to complete - this seems to be the shortcoming of our Council on a number of fronts (see Derick Rowe's in today's HH regarding the over-hyped Hauraki Rail Trail). Why this should be, I have no idea, but it does appear to relate to the number of well paid positions that hang on while snail like progress is made.

I wish that they would simply tell us how they intend to cross the Pirangi. If they intend to circumnavigate it, they will have their hands full with landowner objections. And no financial details of expenditure to date are revealed in the paper - an unacceptable deficiency I would have thought.

Also, the absence of any mention in the paper about the second tranch of Lottery funding may indicate continuing concern from that quarter - there is sure to be concern regarding the planning delays - the second tranch was made conditional at the outset on demonstable progress within a definite timeframe. 

Thames Indoor Sports Facility

Oh boy, this doozy just gets better and better, but no matter what the details, we are not permitted to know about it.

Once again, the update report on the disaster is to be held under 'Public Excluded' on the grounds that:

"That the public conduct of the whole or the relevant part of the proceedings of the meeting would be likely to result in the disclosure of information for which good reason for withholding would exist."

But regardless, I have it on very good authority that the roof will need to be replaced at not less that $300,000 because of a 'balls-up' either in the materials used , or their application.And one can be forgiven for thinking that our Council may itself be at legal jeopardy due to its staff having 'signed off' the construction.

Make what you like of it, and regardless of the truth of the detail of this report, the fact that discussion on the matter is being held behind closed doors constitutes an indictment of all concerned. 

The manner of funding, the deception used at all stages, and the incompetence of all concerned with this project has been obvious for all to see. Our Council owes it to its rate-payers to reveal precisely what has gone on, and the likely additional cost over and above the $5m or thereabouts already allocated.

In addition, our Council's legal situation in this matter should be out in the open for all to see - keeping it hidden behind closed walls will only add to the suspicion that this matter is 'out of control'.   

It is time our Council, our Community Board and our Council staff came clean, and fronted up. Just because our town completely lacks any level of investigative journalism other than my inadequate efforts should not be used as an excuse to hide the truth. They would not get away with it anywhere else.

 

 

 

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