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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

2016 needs to be a step-change for both our City & Regional Councils

2016 needs to be a step-change for both our City & Regional Councils

As Regional Councillors head back for 2016 it is time to reflect on 2015. First let us look at Bay of Plenty Regional Council – I raised issues around managing their costs, and in particular the outrageous staff increases (full of bureaucrats who write reports but do little in active environmental betterment). Has anyone listened – well NO, and to be fair I didn’t expect them to. Staff numbers continue to skyrocket, and if the report in the Bay of Plenty Times is correct, then by January this year staff numbers at the Regional Council now total 328 (up 44% since 2012 !!!).

There are a couple of hard working Regional Councillors, but most just seem happy to receive their salaries, and one (locally based) in particular only attends 50% of his required meetings. This is plain wrong, and the Chairman should have addressed this. BOPRC hide their cost blowouts behind an ever increasing Port of Tauranga dividend (now over $38m), and they are just plain “out of control.”

Tauranga City and Western Bay District Council are no better. Western Bay has gained a reputation as a bully who rides roughshod over landowner rights. Tauranga City do need some sort of accolade, because they certainly have improved their functionality in the last year or so. The fact is that they seem to be listening with regards to the redevelopment of our CBD. The proof however will be in their actions, and whether they have the gumption to action any of the proposals suggested by the CAG (Community Action Group). Somehow I doubt it, because they are so worried about “vested interests” that they can’t see the wood from the trees (take their balmy decision regarding the offer of Gareth Morgan’s wonderful piece of art/sculpture at the Mount). Vision remains in short supply, and our current Mayor appears one of the worst. It is time for a new breed of visionary Councillors to step up at the local government elections in October 2016.

So what lies ahead for 2016 – let’s hope that there is a renewed impetus towards amalgamating Western Bay and Tauranga City. I personally believe that the Western Bay should be a Unitary Council, but I recognise that getting a Unitary across the line would seem too hard. We have around 1,000 bureaucrats employed by local government in the Western Bay, and that is plain crazy. Let’s rationalise the process by amalgamating Western Bay District Council with Tauranga City, as a first step - and let’s do it now. At worst it will make for an interesting local body elections in October 2016. At this stage it is my intention to once again stand to represent Tauranga as a member of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Having stood down from the Crown Agency, Environmental Protection Authority, I am no longer conflicted, and would relish the opportunity to once again represent our local ratepayers. In the earlier 2000’s my by-line was “Action – Not Words” and this just isn’t happening at our ever increasingly bureaucratic Regional Council. We need strong advocates for effective environmental outcomes, and not just PC rhetoric.


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