This has been written in response to this article authored by Kapiti News editor David Haxton, but clearly based on a statement supplied to him by the council’s ‘Communications Team’, and which appeared on the NZ Herald (which Kapiti News is part of) website last Friday. It has not appeared in the printed version of the newspaper; that will likely happen this coming Wednesday.

by John Vickerman

Having been present at both post-public-submission Long Term Plan workshops, I refer to things reported:

1.                   The ‘extra important Kapiti Coast District Council meeting this month’ was not planned when the second workshop on the WRC closure ended because it was not realised at the time that the vote taken was invalid.  It was only when Cr Jackie Elliott and retired lawyer Christopher Ruthe later pointed out that the mayor did not get a casting vote at workshops, that the need for the ‘extra important meeting’ arose.

2.                   The first meeting had the show of hands which might have also been referred to as a ‘straw poll’.  It was 7 to 3.  Crs Cootes and McCann then changed sides in the second meeting (after an informal Councillor meeting between workshops – referred to by Cootes).  When the vote was taken in the second workshop there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was a vote deciding closure.

3.                   If the vote in the second meeting was a ‘straw poll’ why would the mayor have to break ‘the deadlock using a casting vote’.  After being offered the casting vote by the Chief Executive, Mr Maxwell, the mayor upon realising he was being given a casting vote said ‘well, it’s a foregone conclusion, the recycling centre closes on the 1st of August.’

4.                   Councillor Elliott was not “confused” as Kapiti News have reported.  It was the other way round.  Elliot knew it was not a formal council meeting and pointed out the invalidity of the vote immediately after the workshop had ended.  The mayor did not demonstrate anything other than it being a formal vote in the workshop.

5.                   The vote in the first workshop changed what was proposed in the LTP.  Staff had assumed the WRC would close.  After this workshop, the budgeted amount of $123,000 was put back into the plan.  Then in the second workshop it was said this would be met by a targeted rate for Waikanae ratepayers only – not out of the district wide rates as has occurred in the past.  After the vote this amount got taken out of the LTP.  If this was still to be voted on at the ‘extra important Council meeting’ why was there the need to take the $123,000 out?

6.                   The mayor saying he ‘opted for a “collaborative approach” unlike ‘the Auckland mayor’ was a ridiculous statement.  The mayor’s behaviour was the opposite.  He did everything he could to get support for closure and shut the discussion down.

7.                  Deputy Chief Executive Sean Mallon’s ‘ensuring we provide equitable levels of service across the district’ makes no sense.  Waikanae residents were to be charged a targeted rate so none of the other areas would be paying for it.  Where was the inequality?  He then mentions distances travelled and quotes times on average, when in fact the distances are significantly different and quoting time along the highway helps fudge the facts.  It also assumes everyone is able to drive to Otaihanga.  In earlier detail given by Council for closure they even said that Otaihanga was closer for people from Reikorangi and from the end of Huia Street than it was to go to the recycling centre in Park Avenue.  This was factually incorrect.  The survey quoted by Sean Mallon showed 36% of those surveyed did not have kerbside recycling.  If ‘all Kapiti ratepayers’ would not be paying to keep the WRC open, where is the impact for all that is referred to?  Sean Mallon refers to $123,000 per annum, but does not say whether an average ratepayer of Waikanae (the ones who would be paying) would support paying an increase of $17 per annum to keep the WRC open.

8.                   The “s 41A of LGA 2012” reference is incorrect – it is the Local Government Act 2002.  It is unlike Mayor Guru to quote any Act reference.  In this case one of the two in-house lawyers must have told him to include it, but they couldn’t even get the reference right! 

The information provided to Kapiti News that it has ‘in good faith’ reported, is a very disturbing distortion of the truth.

See John Vickerman’s comment on the post of 5 June here