by Geoffrey Churchman

When I saw Richard Mansell’s nomination for one of the two vacant seats on the Waikanae Community Board I was delighted: Richard will make an ideal member with his love for the Waikanae ambiance, his involvement in community causes and, naturally, his business acumen.

We met to discuss the role and his ambitions as a board member over coffee in Relish, one of the particularly nice cafés Waikanae is endowed with, in what can be considered the most historic part of the town.

He quickly made clear that he is not running for the WCB to push his business interests (which are not in the Waikanae Ward anyway) and is genuine about wanting to help achieve the best for Waikanae residents, the town he has lived in for over 50 years since he was 5 years old.  Needless to say, he has a very good knowledge of the town’s history and is aware of what potential scenarios exist with housing development northwards which NZ’s relentless population growth will ensure happens.

Helping Waikanae folks where possible with new economic opportunities in predominately home-based businesses, as well as preserving what’s good about their lifestyle, is his ambition.

One of the immediate development issues that the WCB will be dealing with is the controversial Summerset plans for a large retirement village just east of the Expressway, nestled between Park Ave and Ferndale. (We’ll be posting more on that).

He is in accord with all the things that I wanted to see happen before quitting the board, including solid progress towards a proper new library, a new community hall for Waikanae beach, and better facilities for Waikanae Park including proper ancillary buildings – at present there aren’t even toilets there so what do people do when caught short?

Like me he is keen to see extended the river bank walking and cycling tracks east of the railway bridge towards Reikorangi – at present once past where the water treatment plant is, there is little alternative to the road which has insufficient pedestrian space for sharing with road vehicles.

When it comes to dealing with KCDC bureaucracy he obviously has plenty of experience and we have common views about the way the whole set-up functions.  He readily agrees that the organisation seems somewhat unwieldy, but from his business point of view it’s good for him as he is involved in building overflow accommodation for the staff who have no workspace in the HQ building.

Understandably, he was interested in what led to my and Jill Griggs quitting: the way I put it, in the battle of the people versus the council bureaucracy I made a tactical retreat from fighting powerful forces (the Chief Executive and Mayor plus 4 sycophantic councillors) on the fields to fighting in the mountains.  He knows that among elected members he’ll have allies as well as those who are unhelpful.

But he needs your support first — so when your voting papers arrive mark “1” next to his name!