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Plan ‘set in concrete’

Recommended changes to the District Council’s wastewater resource consent to bring forward disinfection would require changes to the 2018/28 10-year, long-term plan, which would be a “mammoth task”, the wastewater management committee was told.

The wastewater committee will forward three separate reports for the council, which recommend that the timeframe for disinfection be brought forward.

But getting that through the full council stage at a meeting on November 15 would not be easy, the committee was warned.

Committee member Larry Foster said the committee would have to be strong to convince staff to put a really good case forward to convince the full council.

Committee chairman Bill Burdett, who had earlier described this as a watershed meeting, said “don’t forget the long-term plan is set in concrete.”

Tangata whenua had been long suffering about sewage in the sea.

Recommendations in the report would go against the long-term plan that was “set in concrete.”

It would take a monumental shift to get that changed.

But Shannon Dowsing absolutely disagreed, saying nothing was set in concrete and the council should be adaptable and flexible to meet the needs of its community.

It had been highlighted in the reports that the council was not meeting the desire of the community, tangata whenua, this committee, or the recommendations of two independent reviews.

Arguing that funding was locked up in an arbitrary document did not mean the council did not have the right to change that.

The council had been “incredibly fortunate with provincial growth funding, which would see heavy investment in roading, while the plan favoured long-term improvements at ratepayers’ expense.

The long-term plan needed a review regardless, because of the major investments the council had received and the priorities could be changed.

“I am glad to hear that we have the assurance the long suffering iwi has been recognised and this time we will make the right decision.”

Mr Burdett sad there were only four councillors sitting at this table, while there were 13 councillors and the mayor on the council. The long-term plan was a document that had been worked through for a while.

“I do not say it can’t be changed but it will take a monumental persuasion to turn councillors around, never mind the public.

Pene Brown “absolutely supported” what the chairman had said and queried what was actually set in concrete in the plan.

Long-term plan ‘just too hard to oppose’Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann said it was not just a matter of saying “let’s go ahead and change the plan”.

The plan was based on statutory requirements in terms of consultation and amendments.

If the council wanted to make amendments, it was subject to the same consultation process it had previously gone through.

But it was a “mammoth task” and it would take some time to get that done, depending on whether the council did this as part of an annual plan process or as ad hoc consultation.

There were quite a few hoops to jump through. It would take some time.

Staff had been looking at other ways of funding this, such as debt funding, so there would be no impact on rates.

Mr Brown said tangata whenua would want to see some actual transition instead of constantly bringing the long-term plan up in front of them as a wall.

Local tangata whenua might be the envy of a lot of places in the level of engagement and participation reported to it by this council but it was worth nothing.

All the cards were stacked against them, The LTP was just too hard to oppose. It was one constant battle after another.

Mr Burdett said he could understand the frustration but their opinion was highly valued.

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