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Thames Community Board

The TCB met today to consider a number of matters concerning grants.

The fact that the Thames Business Association continues to feature in this regard raises a number of process issues, not the least of which concerns the manner in which the matter was introduced into the 7 May Board meeting without any reference in the agenda, or in the 'late items'  where it would normally be approved for consideration later in the meeting - a check of the minutes proves this to be the case.

It appeared to have been simply introduced during the course of the meeting, and no effort appears to have been made to correct the matter at today's meeting. The issue is simply that the allocation of $80,000 as proposed on 7 May requires the item to have included as a 'new project' in the Long Term Plan' and subsequently publicly consulted in the normal manner.

I have no concerns about the need for such an association, and they appear to have obtained the services of some good people for its 'foundation' board, but I am extremely concerned at the informal manner in which its funding has been brought onto the agenda of our Community Board. The formal processes of bringing projects forward are there for a very good reason, and when they are side-stepped as on this occasion, it causes one to wonder just how often this happens in other areas of our Council's operation.

Staff should be 'hauled over the coals' for allowing this to happen, regardless of the support forthcoming from powerful, and possibly 'conflicted' members of the Board, or Council. I believe that this is the role of our Mayor, and that she should ensure that steps are taken to see that it does not happen again. 

Already it has come to my attention the the Board, or a certain member, or members have promised $40,000 to the Kopu Bridge Trust to assist with their restoration efforts. If this is true, then it is potentially a disgraceful misuse of funds when both the previous and present Mayors have stated categorically that no rate-payer funding will be made available for this purpose.

This is what happens when financial powers are devolved to community boards, and warnings have been given on many occasions in the past of the likely consequences of this policy, which was devised by Leach.

Returning to the Business Association, it seems that a clever ruse was used today to bypass the need for normal process by substituting the allocation of $35,000 from the 2018/19 (this year!) Thames Promotion Project that had been clearly over-allocated this funding for Visitor Solutions Ltd. activities described as "Optimised CBD Experiences" - whatever that means.

This work is said to be a "key function of the Business Association," and therefore able to be neatly allocated without any need for consultation. This is a shambolic outcome for the 'Thames Visitor Promotion and Optimisation Plan' that we were subjected to in 2016. How clever!

The $11,500 shortfall for the consultant to complete Phase One of the setup for the Business Association will be funded from the Thames Promotion budget - another little boondoggle that resulted from the great Leach devolvement experiment.

They will now no doubt come back in the new financial year to seek the remaining $33,500 under some other transfer arrangement that again bypasses the consultation process. I simply don't understand why we put up with this nonsense, but such is life in the Thames 'wild west.' The Auditor General is simply not interested in any of this, and boards (and councils for that matter!) remain a law unto themselves.

The remainder of the meeting appeared to revolve around dealing with Steampunk issues - at least their application has been through the formal process, and today's discussion appeared to be around detail. But you can never be quite sure - other items 'off-agenda' may well have emerged at the meeting - I wouldn't know, having attempted to enter well after it had commenced, but being ejected because "it has gone into 'workshop.'"

Visitors were presenting on some issue or other that the Board clearly did not want out there in public - shades of Leach!




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Reader Comments (3)

Rate payers should not be funding a Business Association.

As an ex-business owner in Thames I recall a number of occasions when attempts were made to fund a Business Association from local retailers going back nearly 20 years. Every attempt to get serious funding from businesses met with polite declines from the majority.

A few dedicated people have attempted to maintain a Business Association over the years but with little support from most business owners.

Isn’t it remarkable that it becomes a “good idea” if someone else pays. Poor bloody rate payer as usual……….

If there is any truth in the suggestion that the new Business Association will give $40,000.00 of rate payer money to the Kopu Bridge Trust it is appalling. I would call it misappropriation of Council funds.

Clancy Nixon

May 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClancy Nixon

No Clancy - your last assumption is incorrect and probably results from the way I wrote it up.
The story I was given by someone 'close to the action' was that the Community Board, or someone on it, not the Business Association, had 'promised' the $40,000.
Hope that clears that one up - otherwise, I entirely agree with your sentiments.

May 29, 2018 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

Amazing - business associations being funded by a Council Community Board to the tune of $80.000 - what for?
As an ex business owner we paid to join our local business association, industry association and special field
association. In the main possibly 20% of businesses belong to a respective industry group. While it would be
nice to see a higher figure that is there choice to join or not to join ( shades of Hamlet?)

It should not be up to Council to fund or run a business association - that then becomes a political communist attitude.
There are no free lunches in today"s environment - or using OP ( Other peoples money eg the ratepayers for
such an enterprise. As far as running a business - put in effort and one will get out fun and profit) and for business
promotion huge promotion by business

My view is that $80,000 would have gone a long way to fixing up drainage for all the ratepayers of Thames Community
Board area.

June 15, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Stewart Ball

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