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Mayor’s presence ‘vital’ for wastewater debate

It is important that Mayor Meng Foon attends the next Gisborne District Council meeting, says wastewater committee chairman Bill Burdett.

The Mayor was not at yesterday’s meeting.

Mr Burdett’s comments followed a debate on a recommendation from his committee that would reduce the time frame for major improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment system.

A motion for that to lie on the table until the next meeting was carried by only eight votes to five after a division was called.

The council was discussing four recommendations from the wastewater management committee that would have required changes to the long term plan budget.

The committee wants to oppose a variation to the resource consent; phase in the implementation of disinfection sooner; make progress on alternative use and disposal of the wastewater; and remove mortuary waste from the system.

Speaking to the motion Graeme Thomson said when there was a discussion some weeks ago the general consensus was that the council would need to make some changes to the programme where they were probably wrongly advised.

But for the committee’s recommendation to be approved by the council without budgets or any idea of how it will affect the long term plan and how it will affect rates, was wrong.

He moved that the recommendation lie on the table and Pat Seymour seconded the motion, saying she understood the mayor had given an instruction that this could happen.

Acting mayor Rehette Stoltz said the council was holding a workshop on the issue and was waiting for more information.

The council was looking at options to reduce the time frame, she said.

To accept the recommendation in the minutes at this stage before receiving any additional information just did not make sense.

It would automatically come up at the next meeting.

Shannon Dowsing asked for a division on the motion.

When the division was called, votes in favour of the recommendation lying on the table were cast by Bill Burdett, Andy Cranston, Karen Fenn, Malcolm MacLean, Pat Seymour, Rehette Stoltz, Graeme Thomson and Brian Wilson.

Votes against were made by Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Shannon Dowsing, Amber Dunn, Larry Foster and Josh Wharehinga.

Later in the meeting Mr Burdett said the mayor needed to be at the next council meeting in January to discuss the wastewater report.

The chief executive should liaise with the mayor to ensure his attendance, he said.

“It is a critical issue for me as chairman of the wastewater management committee as we seem to lurch from decisions . . .

“We rely entirely on David (Wilson, director of Lifelines) to give us the information needed.

“The mayor requested this lie on the table today.

“We need his presence here to facilitate the wastewater issue — it’s so critically important to us,” said Mr Burdett.

Mr Foon has missed yesterday’s meeting and other recent meetings.

He was in Wellington yesterday at the opening of the Terracotta warriors exhibition at Te Papa.