The 28th of June full Council meeting should have been about Council adopting the Long Term Plan. However, it was overshadowed by a couple of other agenda items. View the agenda here.
A surprising turn of events saw those on council who wanted to raze the Takaka grandstand to the ground do an about face. One wonders what persuaded the change of heart when a petition of over a thousand signatures, a demonstration outside council, a multitude speaking in the public forum, and numerous emails wasn’t enough last time we voted. Maybe the TV cameras filming people in chains was a little harder to ignore?
While the Grandstand execution order has been lifted there is a long way to go before the old lady of the Bay can rest in peace. There are a lot of issues to come out of the woodwork to satisfy the Council compliance team. The success of the in-situ restoration bid will largely depend on the ability of all the stakeholder groups to put the past and egos behind them and find enough common ground to work together for the good of the grandstand.
Other agenda items were no less surprising. Councillors were recommended by staff to sign a waiver of councillor privilege and take on personal liability if we wanted to view the Term Sheets in relation to the dam. They stopped short of insisting on a strip search but required that we book a time to view the documents. We would then be allowed access to them in a secure controlled room where we were not to take any copies, electronic or otherwise, of the individually identifiable documents. If our document was proven to be leaked then we would be personally liable for the breach.
What staff didn’t explain was how our personally liable documents would be securely stored, who would have access to them, what supervision would be in place for anyone that had access to them. They also admitted that our staff that had access to the current documents did not have similar requirements, nor did the members of WIL that had access to the documents – even the Term Sheets between CIIL and TDC (rather bizarre I would have thought).
This overreaction in it self leaves one wondering what they are hiding. An earlier version of the Term Sheets was circulated with councillors without such extraordinary security precautions, so what has changed? According to the staff report councillors have “previously been made aware of the key conditions in the Term Sheets” so this is rather extreme to be protecting the non-key conditions surely?
Of course, there were those around the table that did not want to see the Term Sheets. Although, at least one of those councillors wanted “all the information” before making a decision on the Grandstand. A cynical person might say that this selective interest in getting all the information on topics seems to be related to the outcome desired by the individual councillors rather than a reasoned and fair-minded approach.
Another example of this would be a referendum on the Waimea Dam, twice denied by Mayoral casting vote. Yet on the topic of the Public Water Supply Bylaw Review the Mayor is recorded in the latest Engineering Committee minutes as saying “… that without the Waimea Dam there will be significant changes to the District’s water supply during dry summer months. He said that the proposed bylaw clarifies those changes and that it was important to consult with the community.”
It is very important that we have all the information, and the community have a voice, when it comes to water restrictions applying particularly in a no dam scenario. I can hear that cynical ratepayer making a snide comment about this being an attempt to scare them into paying for the dam. However, the current Tasman Resource Management Plan provisions in the event of a no dam scenario will require drastic water cuts should we face dry weather.
It is a pity the community doesn’t have a voice when it comes to expressing an opinion over water restrictions verses unaffordable rate increases when the dam runs over budget don’t you think? The Mayor doesn’t think so.