A reader recently reminded me on a similar headline news article that once in a while we have a fall guy (in this case girl) to keep the illusion going that the system is keeping check on things. The system as many of us know is rife with conflicts of interest over Monsanto fingers in various pies. So on this particular headline then I’m not holding my breath for anything significant to change in the halls of corruption. EnvirowatchRangitikei
A scathing report has just revealed that the now-former head of the Center for Disease Control, Brenda Fitzgerald was purchasing shares in drug companies as well as big tobacco—while heading up the organization ostensibly devoted to health. The hypocritical nature of her position at the CDC while simultaneously investing in companies contrary to her mission exposes the true control industries have over allegedly ‘objective’ government agencies.
For those that don’t know, the CDC is supposed to be the nation’s leader in smoking cessation efforts as smoking-related deaths kill more people in the United States every year than anything else. So, when the head of the nation’s largest anti-smoking department not only holds a massive amount of stock in Big Tobacco, but actually buys more of it while she is in office, it is time to pay attention.
If you think this behaviour is new you need to read ‘Secrets and Lies: The anatomy of an anti-environmental PR campaign’ by Nicky Hager & Bob Burton. That was written in 1999, some 19 odd years ago. Like our clean green image, democracy is sheer illusion. EnvirowatchRangitikei
“The surveillance firm Thompson and Clark uses secret chat channels to communicate with government departments, and share information about members of the public it’s monitoring for those departments.”
The Department of Conservation has been spying on the anti-1080 poison public using controversial security firm Thompson and Clark, National Radio’s “Checkpoint” recently reported.
The news brought strong reaction from the anti-1080 public. Andi Cockroft, co-chairman Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) said the spying showed the deceit and deception which bureaucrats would stoop to.
“This clearly demonstrates the levels to which the public’s government agencies will stoop to while pushing their abhorrent poisoning programme,” he said.
Laurie Collins spokesman for the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust (SHOT) described the spying as “bizarre and dangerous.”
New Zealand was a democracy not a dictatorship run by bureaucrats he said.
“DoC seem to be in total denial of democracy and that they’re public servants supposedly accountable to the public. They are actually spying on their employers – a sizeable chunk of the people who pay DOC’s bills and salaries. It’s melodramatic nonsense. It smacks of a propaganda war with introduced animal paranoia driving it.”
The chief ombudsman says local democracy is being undermined as councils fail to meet obligations to release public information.
Peter Boshier said councils are not meeting their responsibilities under the Local Government Official Information and Meeting Act and that some councils seem to resent having to be held accountable.
“The performance of many councils is disappointing. Local government is absolutely fundamental to democracy, and in that respect the need for accountability and supply of information is just as strong as it is with central government, and yet many local councils don’t see it that way.
This investigative article about the Horowhenua district is from journalist Veronica Harrod. Read her bio at the end of the article. She raises points which are puzzling people NZ wide, and lifts the curtain somewhat to let you see what is going on in meetings you are not entitled to attend. (From this site’s perspective, please check out our Agenda 21/2030 in NZ and our Local Govt Watch pages. Also search Agenda 21/2030 in categories to left of page). I read an interesting article at the LG’s website recently about consultation (raised at the end of this article). It certainly does indicate (& in the context of quite a bit of jest, taking the proverbial pee as it were) that the decision’s already been made when you are ‘consulted’. EnvirowatchRangitikei
Massive Rates Rises Predicted in Horowhenua that will Subsidise Land Developers Reaping Potential Profits of over $100 Million
by Veronica Harrod
Horowhenua land developers and investors will reap at least $100 million profit from not having to pay development contributions towards essential infrastructure costs that council seems intent to load onto existing ratepayers who could face massive, crippling rates increases.
The majority of councils in the country charge development contributions because the policy is regarded as the only effective, fair and equitable way to reduce the impact of expensive infrastructure costs on existing ratepayers.
The Horowhenua District Council scrapped development contributions in 2015 but, judging by the extent of land development planned behind closed doors by land developers and council since 2008, it would be unconscionable if council did not re-introduce the levy on land developers.
Exponential rates rises have historically been used by council’s as a sure fire way to free up land for development by confiscating land from ratepayers who can’t afford high rate increases which will directly have an impact on a large number of home and land owners in the district living on fixed or low incomes.
If the council does not include development contributions in the 2018-2038 Long Term Plan (LTP) the profits made by land developers will be unsustainable and grossly unfair to existing residents.
The $100 million profit projections are based on a conservative estimate of $15,000 per new build if development contributions were charged including a minimum of 2100 new house builds in Levin alone totalling $31.5 million contained in a council’s 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan.
Land developer and deputy mayor Wayne Bishop’s 500 house build in Kimberley Road has financially benefited by approximately $750,000. Cr Bishop also has four other land developments which means he has personally financially benefited by at least one million dollars by not having to pay development contributions.
He declared a conflict of interest at the eleventh hour only when a vote was taken by council to stop charging development contributions. During all the debates he sat at the council table which may have affected councillors ability to speak freely against council intention to stop collecting development contributions. It is also only since his election to council that council has proceeded with such a massive scale of land development.
Also included in the profit estimates is the potential affect of relaxing urban housing density rules to allow for sub-division and building of two houses on one house lot which council is deliberating on now. Neighbours would not have to be consulted on increased urban density plans due to changes to the Resource Management Act made by the National led government early this year that favours land developers. Potential profits also include proposed land developments in other parts of the district contained in separate reports available at http://www.horowhenua.govt.nz/…/Plans-Strategies/Horowhenua…
Evidence council is determined to pursue a land growth agenda is also contained in the council report on relaxing urban density rules which negligently and deliberately omitted to include any environmental and cultural costs of land development even though all the new builds would connect to the existing infrastructure, and even though there is evidence of environmental and cultural costs documented in past council reports including the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan.
Cr Neville Gimblet and council’s chief executive David Clapperton have made comments recently alluding to the scale of land development and the expectation existing ratepayers would pay for them. Mr Clapperton said in a recent newspaper article, “I see some huge opportunities for the Horowhenua that have never been seen before, probably in the last three generations. And I’m adamnant that I want to be part of that journey.”
His comments were made despite consultation on the 20 year Long Term Plan only just starting indicating he is a central, local cog in the wheel of a land development agenda that has captured the council to such an extent democracy itself is being deliberately undermined by the very organisation that is supposed to uphold democratic principles.
Cr Gimblett alluded to the impact of the high cost of replacing essential infrastructure on existing ratepayers in a newspaper column when he said he was “surprised no-one commented on the $2.8 million of unfunded depreciation in the financial report.” Depreciation is a method used to account for future costs of essential infrastructure by acknowledging wear and tear and need for replacement over time.
“While depreciation is not a cash item so has little impact today, it is a key feature of sustainable long term planning and ultimately your rates,” he stated before warning ratepayers that, “Officers and elected members are currently involved in multiple workshops to prepare for the next Long Term Plan, where we will be mindful of this financial constraint hanging over our heads.”
If Cr Gimblet is so “mindful of the financial constraints” then it would stand to reason he supports the reintroduction of development contributions as this levy on land developers would not only immediately solve the problem of funding depreciation costs but also potentially provide enough money to ensure state of the art essential infrastructure designs were built and maintained. Nevertheless he didn’t mention re-introducing development contributions he only mentioned the cost to existing ratepayers.
The democratically elected mayor Michael Feyen has been effectively sidelined because he is viewed as a threat to this cabal of unrestrained and unrestricted land developers and their investors as during the last local body elections he said he was going to make environmental concerns and Lake Horowhenua a priority.
No matter who Mayor Feyen subsequently turned to in seeking redress to reign in the power of an unelected chief executive David Clapperton not one minister of the last National led government would lift a finger to assist him. Local Government New Zealand would not assist him either.
Mr Clapperton also has the support of nine out of ten councillors, excluding Cr Ross Campbell, who are rewarded handsomely for their backing by favourable treatment in appointments to committees and other council led opportunities.
Local National Party MP Nathan Guy has also refused to take action to restore democracy in Horowhenua but, as a recent article in a local newspaper stated, Mr Guy has got the largest property and land portfolio of all acting Government ministers including an extensive amount of Horowhenua rural land, a family home, two rental properties, interests in 13 commercial properties and a Wellington property.
Land developer and investor interest in developing housing subdivisions on at least 550 hectares in the north east of Levin, that extends across Mr Guy’s rural property interests, may also be using their influence with the now acting Government to ensure the highway of national significance is built to the west of Levin instead of the East of Levin. Cr Bishop has certainly stated a preference the new highway be built to the west of Levin.
As if it’s not enough that local Maori and residents of Hokio on the west of Levin have to endure the Levin Sewage Treatment Plant, the landfill, the infamous smelly “pot” behind the landfill and a polluted Lake Horowhenua now moves are afoot to ensure the new highway won’t get in the way of land developers and their investor interest in the East of Levin.
The excessive profit margins land developers and their investors will potentially make helps to explain the increasing interest major land and property developers, that have previously only operated in Auckland and Wellington, now have in Horowhenua.
The first sign the district saw of this burgeoning interest was the purchase of the council owned pensioner housing and 1.1 hectare of bare land by land and property developer Willis Bond in a publicly excluded deal with council for a fire sale price of $5.25 million. Anecdotal evidence is Willis Bond owners the McGuinness brothers count now acting Attorney General Chris Finlayson as a friend.
As Attorney General Mr Finlayson administers the Crown Law office that relentlessly pursues criminal charges against Lake Horowhenua kaitiaki Philip Taueki who continues to give voice to inconvenient truths about Lake Horowhenua ownership and pollution by the council and regional council. Other state agencies have also demonstrated a partisan approach in matters to do with Mr Taueki.
In her recently published e-book “Man of Convictions” Anne Hunt* says Horowhenua District Council waived all fees and granted the consent to decommission the buildings and disconnect the water from Mr Taueki’s residence six days after several men and six or seven police arrived at his place one morning and began sledgehammering and dismantling the building and power to the building. They also attempted to turn his water supply off then too.
When Mr Taueki, “complained to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about the way the Horowhenua District Council as a building consent authority handled this matter…initially the Ministry expressed concern, but ultimately decided to take no action. The Tenancy Tribunal was equally dismissive.”
Mr Taueki is under constant threat of arrest and imprisonment and, although it is illegal to turn the water supply off to his residence at Lake Horowhenua, the council continues to do so and not one state agency intervenes on his behalf even though he has been left without a water supply for over eight months.
He has been beaten up, shot at, threatened with murder, thrown in jail, forced to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and denied physical access to the very lake he is kaitiaki and one of the owners of by numerous trespass orders.
He is currently facing a retrial of one of the trespass notices he has been acquitted of twice after Crown Law, an office administered by Mr Finlayson, appealed an acquittal of the charge and the appeal was granted by a judge. His case has been delayed until January 2018 because the Crown did not disclose information to defence lawyer Michael Bott when the retrial began last month in Levin District Court.
Allegations of bias by the Courts against Mr Taueki has also been made by Hunt who writes that Mr Finlayson has been responsible for appointing, “all bar one of the six Supreme Court judges, all ten Court of Appeal judges and 75% of the High Court judges….in a process without any statutory constraints or regulations.”
Despite the fact “Man of Convictions” is written by a local resident and respected journalist, author and former Horowhenua district councillor Anne Hunt about the horrendous experiences and treatment of a Lake Horowhenua kaitiaki whose ancestor is the renowned paramount chief of Mua-Upoko neither of the two local newspapers have expressed any interest in interviewing her.
Openly flouting media independence on council reporting the Fairfax owned Horowhenua Mail has now employed council’s former communications officer Kelvin Teixeira which does not bode well for impartial reporting of council communications Mr Teixeira has helped develop and carry out on behalf of the council.
But it is the Crown’s lack of actions to date that disturbingly suggest a collusion with a Horowhenua land development agenda even though it is destined to greatly increase pollution levels to Lake Horowhenua. The Lake Accord, set up to rehabilitate the health of the lake, remains silent about the impact an exponential increase of new builds connected to the existing insufficient and ageing infrastructure will have on Lake Horowhenua.
Hunt says, “Levin’s stormwater system is a major source of phosphorous, and it is this chemical that is the major cause of the cyanobacteria that has plagued the lake in recent years, making it lethal for children. In his 2012 report, Dr Max Gibbs referred to research that 80% of the lake’s phosphorous chemical content comes from the town’s stormwater system.”
“A report prepared for the Horowhenua District Council by Dr Chris Tanner, a principal scientist from NIWA (the Crown Research Institute) commented on the ‘significant
potential health effects from these drain flows,’ without even considering ‘potential toxicity issues with other contaminants such as metals or organics in the discharge from this drain’ she quoted from Dr Tanner’s report.
An apparently deliberate refusal to reintroduce development contributions is essentially undemocratic because it put the interests of the few above the many and makes a mockery of the consultation process of a LTP residents and ratepayers will be bound by for the next twenty years.
Even though council has been having workshop meetings about priorities of the LTP one public consultation held at Te Takere last week had no information at all about the council’s intentions which gives the public little to respond to. There were two councillors, a desk and a lot of free pens but no substance about what council has been discussing in publicly excluded workshops about council’s LTP priorities which makes it a faux consultation on one of the most important issues facing ratepayers today.
Although it might be confusing to understand why the council would refuse to reintroduce the levy on land developers one powerful reason for doing so is it appears the council is prepared to drive out existing residents by imposing unsustainable rates rises in favour of new residents who are regarded as more desirable.
The emphasis on making the district attractive to new residents is highlighted in communications from council on the LTP consultations which promotes the concept of making the district attractive for “those that are moving here” and concerns already exist about the statement by council in a two page newspaper feature, “…all submissions will be considered by elected members and the plan adjusted as they see fit.”
One has to wonder whether the LTP has already been pre-determined if councillors are only going to adjust the LTP “as they see fit.”
Veronica Harrod is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.
For more information on Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.
WHAT CAN WE DO? The current elected Mayor campaigned on more transparency & more public inclusion. In light of that do your best to attend the HDC meetings in Levin, hear what is happening & get speaking rights to express to Council matters that affect you. The meetings are held 6 weekly and dates are found on the HDC website, FB page or by phoning them.
So the suspicions of many of us were not unfounded, highlighted here by Labour Party’s Rob McCann. Those services promised for the life of the pensioner housing tenants’ contracts may likely come unwrapped & get tossed in the recycle bin in 12 years time. We were assured that their current contracts with HDC would continue, and yet the agreement with the property developer cum community housing provider we’re told actually has an end date & HDC isn’t highlighting that. The tenants who were ‘consulted’
vigorously (over a free dinner) are currently of the understanding things won’t be changing. But all the warm, fuzzy spin about the long term wrap around services are likely just that. Spin. They were sugar coating the bitter pill of privatization methinks. Funny isn’t it? Privatization (aka selling off the family silver) was always sold to us as such a good thing. Like the Emperor’s new clothes. But we all know it’s not & that’s especially illustrated by the fact that they surround it with smoke and mirrors. In this case they threw the one dissenting voice off the housing committee to allow for ‘true’ democracy to occur. (That was the Mayor who it seems isn’t allowed to exercise his democratic right to disagree with them). Then they conducted everything in private secret-squirrel style. ‘Nothing to see here’.
Alternatively they coat the sell-off plans with sugar by including terms like ‘wrap around services’, ‘social commitment’, ‘inclusiveness’, ‘affordability’, ‘sustainability’ (that Agenda 21 buzz word again), ‘compassion’, ‘specialist support’ and so on. Some of us though don’t fall for that. The older folks among us can sniff a rodent five miles away. They remember how it used to be (full employment, all housed, healthy kids, very little poverty) but lived through the era when Rogernomics drove us down the promised path of prosperity that now sees us featuring in UNICEF’s hall-of-shame stats. Highest teen suicide rate in the world? Well done NZ. And welcome to the new fuzzy world of global citizenship and global governance. Joining any dots folks? It’s simply not adding up. EnvirowatchHorowhenua
Horowhenua District Council being economic with the truth
Horowhenua District Council being economic with the truth on housing sales
“This is privatisation of public assets. Simply put, it is an asset sale, and the manner of the sale almost beggars belief,” says Mr McCann.
“Horowhenua District Council’s sale of pensioner flats has left many important questions unanswered”, says Otaki’s Labour candidate, Rob McCann, who is adamantly opposed to the sale.
“The Council has opted not to point out to the public that the agreement with the new providers expires in just 12 years. That is, quite simply, unbelievable. “One of the community’s major concerns was to ensure that the dwellings would remain as Pensioner Housing stock. And yet, here it is in writing, that the agreement lasts only for twelve years. That is stunning, and makes a mockery of the council talking about the “best fit” and “solution” for the community. The deal allows for a future where there is no guarantee that these Pensioner Flats even remain as community housing.”
Mr McCann says the Council has also opted not to highlight that only 105 of the 115 houses are covered by the social housing purpose. “What will happen to the other ten? And there is little mention of the 1.1 hectares of land plot that is part of the sale. Will this be given to the property developers?”
Astoundingly, there is simply no guarantee that the housing will even remain as ‘Pensioner Housing’, given CE David Clapperton’s reference to it merely as ‘Community Housing’, as reported in the Horowhenua Chronicle.
“This is privatisation of public assets. Simply put, it is an asset sale, and the manner of the sale almost beggars belief,” says Mr McCann.
“The Council outlined the sale of the Pensioner flats at a press conference without even inviting the Mayor. This is extraordinary. Whether you agree with his stance on various issues or not, to exclude the Mayor just because he opposes the sale is simply another example of a flawed sale process conducted by this council.
“It seems that the council has opted to continue to ‘spin the sale’ to the public, rather than reveal all the details, and it was therefore disappointing to see a local front page story without a number of pertinent facts,” says Mr McCann.
“I understand that the press conference was hastily called once details of the sale were leaked, especially the information that the prospective purchasers – and ultimate owners of the land and housing stock – are property developers, not social housing providers,” said Mr McCann.
“There is a clear housing crisis in this country, and decisions such as this represent a transfer of wealth from the community to the private sector. This does nothing to avert the housing crisis”.
Mr McCann says that Horowhenua District Council must answer these questions and also discontinue this appalling process.
Revelations here from an honest Councilor who tries to represent the people who elected him! Cr Ross Campbell posted this video on his Facebook page recently.
Please folks, take care how you vote this coming LG election. Find Crs/representatives who stand for truth and integrity, these are the ones who will represent you democratically as they should. Help stop the growing corruption and lies in our District Councils.
Horowhenua Mayor Brendan Duffy’s select Committee – is a non elected group that tells the elected councilors how to vote – says elected Councilor Ross Campbell of the Miranui Ward in the Horowhenua District, lower North Island. In this video he explains more and is expressing his concern about the way things are run. There is a lack of democracy.
And if you would like further confirmation of this state of affairs within the HDC & other LGs, visit the Local Government Watch pages … there you can read about a former Cr Mrs Anne Hunt’s experience in being eye balled & told how to vote. This is happening people, in our Councils NZ wide… check out the other Councils that have also come to light. Rodney for instance. I have heard personally of it happening in one other Council. Please read the Agenda 21/2030 pages for further information on why that is happening, and watch the video there by former Australian politician, Anne Bressington. (Search the sub pages to Agenda 21, Agenda 21/2030 in NZ also).
A word of endorsement from Councilor Michael Feyen … “Take the time to have a listen to Councillor Ross Campbell’s very good summation of what we are up against in this HDC District. If the Horowhenua wants to progress it won’t be under the current regime.” Cr Feyen is standing this election for the Mayoralty.
Horowhenua Disrict Council and the non elected committee that is making decisions
TRANSCRIPT OF CR CAMPBELL’S VIDEO
“My name is Ross Campbell and as most of you know I’m the District Councilor for the Miranui Ward which takes in Tokomaru & Shannon, Opiki, Akarua, Buckley & Mangaore and this lovely part of the district of Miranui.
I’ve got a few things that concern me when I’m in Council. One of them is these … we get a lot of information at Council … we get information from the NZTA you know, that’s the roading people; we get Government departments telling us all sorts of statistics and things, what they are likely to do and what they want to do. We get a lot of information from statistics of course, we get market trends, we get inquiries from overseas investments … we get information from Regional Councils, Health Boards and so it goes on … there’s a lot of information coming in. This information is meant to be used in briefings to councilors, to help them in their decisions, planning the district, and which way we want to go, if we want to go forward or we want to go sideways or whatever the case might be, and so we use this information to help us make decisions. But this concern is something that I want to bring to you … it’s not always the case.
Our Mayor … some of you might not know this … our mayor has formed a group of his closest business associates. They’re the people who he mixes with. And together with these associates there are developers, there are retailers, there are manufacturers, contractors, who have been selected by him. They’ve formed themselves into what we call an Economic Development Committee. That’s what the Council calls it but I actually call it an Economic Advantage Committee … over their competitors.
You see all the information that we receive is passed on to this committee who are not elected people … they’ve not been elected to be there by you, who may be arguably your closest competitor in your business, and these people all get an unfair advantage over their closest rivals, and that rival could be you. Because of all this information coming in, they know where the trends are, they know the direction the council’s thinking. They are privy to information that gives them an advantage over others, especially at this time when we Councilors are told often to be quiet about the different possibilities that may happen. These business associates of the Mayor actually came to our table at Council the other night and addressed us and advised us to vote for the policies that would benefit them!
What is that? To me that’s insider trading. I call it that but you may call it something different. But I’m not allowed. This handful of business associates that our Mayor has selected are receiving an advantage over their competitors, and it’s just not right. These folks have not been elected by you. They’ve never sworn allegiance to the district, and are being rewarded for their faithfulness to the Mayor. Go figure.
What do you think? Just last week a decision was made to announce to the retailers in Levin as to where the road of national significance was going. But we wouldn’t announce it until February 2017. As it was told to us by the Mayor we shouldn’t announce it before the election as the Mayor, because of this, could get skinned alive. So just whose interests are we looking after? Folks, we must get out there and vote, and elect those you trust … not those who are there to furnish the Mayor’s ego and their own business pockets. That is one of my concerns and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of the other concerns I have. They are concerns that I believe you need to know about … that we haven’t got a Council that’s working directly for you … we’ve got a Council that is working for the few.
Please folks, take care how you vote this coming LG election. Find Crs/representatives who stand for truth and integrity, these are the ones who will represent you democratically as they should. Help stop the corruption and lies.
See our Agenda 21/30 pages for more info & links, &/or search categories for further related articles (at left of any page).
Consider liking our FB pages (Horowhenua &/or Rangitikei) &/or following our blog (right of any page) to help spread the word and expose corruption! Use the share buttons!
This is familiar territory when it comes to the Horowhenua District Council. Earlier this year we had other whistle blowers telling us they were told how to vote. And here we have a further example. Would you purchase a house or business without reading ALL the financial & other reports relating to that purchase? Would you run a business (which is what our District Councils are … companies) without fully reading all the financial reports? Well, that is what the recipient of your rates folks is expecting you (your representatives, ie the said councilors) to do! Watch this space especially on October 5th!
Here is Cr Ross Campbell’s latest revelation:
“Yesterday all Councillors were asked to come to a Briefing regarding our “Financial Report” It started at 4.45pm and finished at approx 5 15pm. The Report we were told is, 100 pages long and we would not be given a hardcopy to look at but we were shown a selection of pieces from the report (about 6 pages) on a overhead screen, with a commentary from the Financial Manager.
The reason we would not receive a full copy to analyse was that it was 100+ pages. What is going on? Then the Mayor instructed us by saying that he expected us all to endorse this report at the next Council meeting on the 5th Oct which is the last one before the elections.What is going on here?
I have not seen this Report in its entirety and I am sure as ever not going to endorse it without seeing it in full.We the Councillors are meant to Govern and the Management are meant to provide ALL the Facts and figures surrounding the Finances to us to enable us to vote with confidence one way or the other.
I will keep you all Posted!!!”
Thank you to Cr Ross Campbell for properly representing us the people and for endeavouring to keep those entrusted with the public purse, transparent and honest. Like a democracy should be.
Check out your Council on Dun and Bradstreet Companies register online (or you can find it for yourself at this link here):
Check out our Local Govt Watch pages (in the menu at top of page); & follow our Horowhenua FB page for further updates. Visit also our Agenda 21/2030 pages for further info on why our Councils are changing … are no longer democratic.
A Foxton tangata whenua representative, William McGregor, and other locals have organized a peaceful sit in at the town’s cenotaph. There is a lot of history behind this part of town which was the original Te Awahou settlement (Te Awahou is Foxton’s real name) . The local Horowhenua District Council has plans to move the cenotaph and do up the main street at the obscene cost of $1.6 million.
The people want the cenotaph to remain where it is. Council, in keeping with their plans, held a last minute blessing of the area last week in readiness for the moving day. This demonstrates the extent of their commitment to consultation. At that ceremony those officiating with regard to the blessing diplomatically acknowledged it was out of respect for those fallen in the wars and those buried there that they came.
The Council is already in debt to the tune of $100+ million, according to two councilors, however Mayor Brendan Duffy claims the debt is only $68 million. Either figure, it is still too much and some wise spending is in order.
What the local people really want is clean water, however the Council claims the water if fine and the Mayor says on FB that he drinks it. It is in fact regularly a brown colour and is highly infused with chlorine, a known carcinogen. Chlorine of course is the sticking plaster for pollution that most DCs don’t want to spend money on cleaning up. Witness the fact we can no longer swim in 40% of our ‘clean green’ rivers. The Horowhenua also has an horrific track record of disposing of its waste into the local waterways.
That aside, the point is, nobody (except a few shop owners apparently) wants the street to be narrowed with gardens replacing many parking spaces. Nevertheless, Council has already had contractors demolish the old Council building, old records and all. Antique books have been left lying in the rain where they fell.
So, the beef that locals have with the council is that people weren’t consulted. It’s said RSA was, however it turns out dozens of RSA members who’ve dropped by the protest claim they were not asked. They’ve also added photographs of the fallen soldiers onto the base of the cenotaph. I think Council are in for a rough ride and this is the price they pay for not consulting with the people they’re supposed to be working for.
A tent has been erected next to Ihakara Gardens for the protesters to stay in, and gifts of food and supplies have been pouring in from the public, including local businesses. They’re in for the long hall.
For as long as I’ve been following the lack of consultation issue over the street changes, our local representative in Council, Cr Michael Feyen, has said repeatedly he’s been left out of the consultation loop and in spite of requests has not been shown any plans for the street. Yesterday however, the HDC issued a press release replete with plans and history, and also denying the claims they’ve not consulted locals. The sit in organizers claim the details in the press release are simply not true. They are the tangata whenua and they know if they’ve been consulted or not. They haven’t. For further information on that visit Cr Michael Feyen’s FB page.
Although HDC’s website claims partnership & consultation with local iwi, it appears to be just lip service. This became evident with the Shannon waterways pollution & what ensued there. Little if any respect for tangata whenua.
Radio NZ has published an article on this … you can read it at this link.
The latest news from Cr Feyen’s FB page at 5pm today is, Mayor Duffy and CEO Clapperton are at the site in discussions with the organizers. However, note, Foxton’s own District Councilor, their own representative, is not privy to that discussion. Not allowed.
So much for democracy & consultation. I rest my case.
“The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future… ” Horowhenua District Council
The Horowhenua Dictrict Council’s Ross Campbell, elected representative of the Miranui
Ward, expresses his growing concern about the way things at the HDC are run, in particular, with whom important information is shared and the way decisions are being made.
Horowhenua Mayor Duffy has a select Committee of close business associates – a non-elected, hand picked business group with no sworn allegiance to the district, that tells the elected councilors how to vote. Cr Campbell is not alone in his concern.
Fellow Councilor Michael Feyen of Foxton confirms what Cr Campbell is saying … “Take the time to have a listen to Councillor Ross Campbell’s very good summation of what we are up against in this HDC District. If the Horowhenua wants to progress it won’t be under the current regime.” Both Cr Feyen and Cr Campbell speak out regularly about the polluting practices of local government. Cr Campbell was allegedly assaulted in 2004 for his active part in this.
Listen to Cr Campbell’s recent announcement from his Facebook page (the following is a transcript):
“My name is Ross Campbell and as most of you know I’m the District Councilor for the Miranui Ward which takes in Tokomaru & Shannon, Opiki, Buckley & Mangaore and this lovely part of the district of Miranui.
I’ve got a few things that concern me when I’m in Council. One of them is these … we get a lot of information at Council … we get information from the NZTA you know, that’s the roading people; we get Government departments telling us all sorts of statistics and things, what they are likely to do and what they want to do. We get a lot of information from statistics of course, we get market trends, we get inquiries from overseas investments … we get information from Regional Councils, Health Boards and so it goes on … there’s a lot of information coming in. This information is meant to be used in briefings to councillors, to help them in their decisions, planning the district, and which way we want to go, if we want to go forward or we want to go sideways or whatever the case might be, and so we use this information to help us make decisions. But this concern is something that I want to bring to you … it’s not always the case.
Our Mayor … some of you might not know this … our Mayor has formed a group of his closest business associates. They’re the people who he mixes with. And together with these associates there are developers, there are retailers, there are manufacturers, contractors, who have been selected by him. They’ve formed themselves into what we call an Economic Development Committee. That’s what the Council calls it but I actually call it an Economic Advantage Committee … over their competitors. You see all the information that we receive is passed on to this committee who are not elected people … they’ve not been elected to be there by you, who may be arguably your closest competitor in your business, and these people all get an unfair advantage over their closest rivals, and that rival could be you.
Because of all this information coming in, they know where the trends are, they know the direction the council’s thinking. They are privy to information that gives them an advantage over others, especially at this time when we councillors are told often to be quiet about the different possibilities that may happen.
These business associates of the Mayor actually came to our table at Council the other night and addressed us and advised us to vote for the policies that would benefit them!
What is that? To me that’s insider trading. I call it that but you may call it something different. But I’m not allowed.
This handful of business associates that our Mayor has selected are receiving an advantage over their competitors, and it’s just not right. These folks have not been elected by you. They’ve never sworn allegiance to the district, and are being rewarded for their faithfulness to the Mayor.
Go figure. What do you think? Just last week a decision was made to announce to the retailers in Levin as to where the road of national significance was going. But we wouldn’t announce it until February 2017. As it was told to us by the Mayor we shouldn’t announce it before the election as the Mayor, because of this, could get skinned alive. So just whose interests are we looking after? Folks, we must get out there and vote, and elect those you trust … not those who are there to furnish the Mayor’s ego and their own business pockets. That is one of my concerns and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of the other concerns I have. They are concerns that I believe you need to know about … that we haven’t got a Council that’s working directly for you … we’ve got a Council that is working for the few.”
Now, take a look at the mission statement if you like, of the Horowhenua District Council copied straight from their website:
Council’s Responsibilities and Activities
“The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future.
Council is made up of the Mayor and 10 Councillors (elected members). They are responsible for determining local policy and legislation, and defining the overall vision for the Horowhenua District. Council makes decisions on behalf of the ratepayers and residents.”
The Mayor’s Role
“The Mayor is elected by the District “as a whole”, and as one of the elected members, shares the same responsibilities as other members of Council.” Some of the Mayor’s roles that relate to Cr Campbell’s concerns [abbreviated] are:
Advocate on behalf of the community
Provide leadership and feedback to other elected members on teamwork and chairing committees.
Councils nowadays are fine in their rhetoric, or should I say spin? What they are doing is regularly a very different matter. They should be making decisions DEMOCRATICALLY … on behalf of ratepayers and residents, and not on behalf of the Mayor’s close business associates!!
Horowhenua people, see what is going on in your District governance. Be sure to vote for change this October. Vote for honesty and transparency.
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