I had an indifferent week this week. I was away on Tuesday in Wellington to do abit of lobbying whilst I still carry abit of weight as a Councillor. A big day.
On Thursday we had the last Regional Council meeting of this Tri-ennium. Items of interest included the Annual report, which showed an operating surplus of $4.9 million.
Followed by Big Dams, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is seeking feedback on proposed amendments to the Building regulations 2008 (Dam Safety). Next was the Regional land Transport Committee Membership.Who should be on it and who could vote.
There was an update on Totara Reserve,this turned out to be a bit of a liability financially. Ratepayer money has had to be spent on 300 hectare’s of erosion prone bush which is the reserve. I suggested we send it back to the Manawatu District Council(MDC) and cut our losses. I voted against Horizon’s taking it over last year when MDC asked us to assume control over and make it a reserve of Regional Significance.It turns out Horizons got the rough end of the deal in more ways than one. Read the report No: 13-185 in the Agenda 26th September 2013.
Earlier on in the meeting, (I was late attending, being that it started at 1.pm. So of course I spent time on the farm first which inevitably meant that I got late) there was an update on the Whanganui River Iwi Treaty Settlement Process. One of the key areas of redress is the legal recognition of the status of the Whanganui River. I discussed this last week.
Government Officials are seeking local government views before cabinet approval is sought. The problem is that Hapu representatives talking to me do not want the governance outcomes sought. They are concerned that there is too much emphasis on the “health ” of the river and not enough on economic outcomes able to be derived. I have got to agree. The Record of Understanding signed before negotiations started, have the Well-beings order described as Environmental, Social, Cultural and Economic. I referred to these last week as well. So If you are concerned write to our MP and tell him so. Remember get off your chuff and do something about it. This reminds me. A while ago somebody was complaining bitterly to me about all these god damned pine trees going in. I told him just that, and gave him a quick basis for a submission to the Ruapehu District Council. Non Complying Activity. Well blow me down Don Cameron came up to me a week or so ago, with a smile on his face. “We have had a submission Mike. Sounds like you have been talking to somebody.” So great guys….. go for it. We want heaps more. Thats 2 now. Think about it. Every hectare of pines that go in is $800- $1000 per hectare per year that is lost to the Districts economy. So wake up you townies. No wonder Taumarunui is shutting down. I have told the District Councillors. It is your homes, your business, your infrastructure, your social services that are under threat here. Get off your chuffs and make a submission. Ban the Pine Tree.
At the end of the day was members Questions. I finished as I started 6 years ago. On a controversial Note. I noted that the press hung around long after they normally do. Councillor Guy asked if I was able to respond to the requests by the CEO in August, for evidence to back up my assertions , which I detail in the following. Of course it is election time and there are those who seek to show me in a bad light and plaster it all over my local papers. A month ago during report no 13-146 of the Strategy and Policy 13/08/2013, which is about the National Policy Statement Fresh Water (NPSFW). Staff described The NPSFW as a landrover, whilst the One Plan was a luxury Car, a Rolls Royce. Our (The Regional Council) Policy Statement/Plans cannot be stricter than a NPS. Previous to that, in fact 6 weeks earlier, whilst discussing report 13-124 Regional Council dated 25/06/2013, The CEO and Council RMA Lawyer Maassen stated during the report discussion that Council was in breach of the NPS. I reminded the CEO of this. He denied he said that. Even that Maassen was present. My fellow Councillors sat there in muted silence. Well I was challenged to prove my assertion, along with an assertion I made re delegation of authority to the CEO over the election period. In 2007 he commented in the local paper on the One Plan process and to my mind to undermine a candidates platform. Mine.
I will assert that the recording of the meeting was tampered with. I had been given a little hint. Just a hint. So I stuck to my guns. What saved my butt, was that the dumb buggers did not write Mr Maassen out of the also present list. You could have heard a pin drop. Then I started into report 13-146 as described above, and all hell broke lose. The Chair demanded, “GET OUT, Mr Grant Please get that man out.” Mr Grant bolted down the side of the chamber opened the chamber door into the foyer before asking me politely to leave. Whilst the Chair continued to demand I leave, I stated, that I also had the media report requested as evidence, and whats more there is more…. I have 2 letters from a rate payer the CEO will not reply to. That was too much for the CEO, he screeched out,”I am sick of this man he has been the ‘Bane’ of my life for the last 6 years. The foyer was full of people, all looking, mouths open. Staff ducking for cover, and a gobsmacked Mr Grant. Thats bad, thats bad is all he could say. I did not mind. But now the media will have a field day, hopefully their reporting will be balanced……….
I demand transparency, professional accountability and above all honesty. Sadly in my view Horizons lacks just that.
I helped a couple out who lost their bore water supply during the drought.It has never happened before. An extractor sucked the adjoining stream nearly dry. Anyway the extractors consent review is on Tuesday. And over the weekend I lobbied the Hort rep for an outcome that suited both parties. Took a bit to get through the arrogance but hopefully he is on the job.
See you next week.