The first of two meetings in the Waikanae Baptist Church hall organised by Grey Power, about 60 members of the public showed up today at 10 a.m. in the sunny early Spring weather to hear 8 of the 14 District-wide council candidates (absent were: Gywnn Compton, who speaks tomorrow, same time, same place as a mayoral candidate, Mike Cardiff, Rosalind Derby, Tim Parry, David Scott and Chris Turver) and two of the three Waikanae Ward councillor candidates, Iride McCloy and Jocelyn Prvanov. Michael Scott was absent.
Additionally present were our team’s community board candidates, Geoffrey and Margaret, although they were not given speaking time.
Each candidate had three minutes as an opening statement and then members of the audience were invited to ask questions which each candidate answered in turn, and as was to be expected, there was a marked difference between those who had firm ideas and those who waffled (although that depended on the question).
The first question was what can the council do to revitalise the Waikanae Town Centre? Iride pointed out that the closure of the main library has had a big impact, and that although there is a pop-up library now, that was at the expense of the Artel Gallery / Shop, which has gone to Otaki. Nigel Wilson said there should be a bylaw to prevent commercial land banking as a certain woman has now done there for several years. Jocelyn Prvanov said a proposal to allow residential flats to be built on top of the buildings had been considered, although the lack of parking was a problem.
The lack of good communication by elected members, extreme council secrecy, bad council staff turnover, the amount the council spends on consultants and lawyers, the lack of action on the reservoir, the social housing shortage, the amount of council debt and interest payments on it, poor long term planning, the poor value the council gets from contractors, the disfunction between council staff and the elected representatives, and needless to say, the hated water meters, were among the topics that came up. (The candidates who condemned the water meters were Nigel Wilson, Rob McCann, Murray Forsdyke, Jackie Elliott, Asher Wilson-Goldman, and Iride. Jocelyn Prvanov defended them.)
At the end of the meeting, people were able to sign a newly created petition to the present mayor and councilors to restore the slashed library budget.