Councillor responds to commission appointment
Former deputy-mayor Kelvin Clout is “both saddened and frustrated by the events of 2020” which has led to four commissioners replacing the city’s council.
He is responding to the announcement from Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who has appointed an Anne Tolley-led commission to replace elected members.
“The commission is necessary to put Tauranga in a stronger position for the future,” says Mahuta.
Tolley will be joined by Bill Wasley, Stephen Selwood and Shadrach Rolleston.
“In making her decision I believe the Minister conflated the well-publicised unwillingness of the Mayor to lead and build a constructive working relationship with his Councillors, with the governance performance of the Council,” says Clout.
“Even the independent Review and Observer Team report stated that the Council had not failed to meet a single statutory obligation and that there was no obvious manifestation of an actual governance problem.”
In Kelvin’s view, the appropriate level of Ministerial intervention would have been the appointment of a Crown Manager, which is what Council asked for, twice.
He feels this would have retained local democracy and decision-making, whilst providing the Minister comfort that the Crown Manager could overturn any intolerable resolutions made by Council.”
In appointing these commissioners, Mahuta says she has carefully considered the right skills and experience to deliver the Long-term Plan, restore public confidence in the council, recognise the strategic growth challenges, working with iwi and develop a pathway to return the council to an elected membership in October 2022.
“The council is facing substantial infrastructure and funding challenges that need to be addressed in its 2021-31 Long-term Plan.
“My decision to appoint four commissioners strikes the right balance between the significant decisions that need to be made and the important task ahead in rebuilding the relationship between the council and the Tauranga community.”
Despite his reservations, Clout hopes the commissioners adjust quickly to the city’s needs.
“All four of the Commissioners are top quality people with excellent experience and appropriate skills.
“They should be able to form a team quite quickly and get to grips with the significant issues facing Tauranga Moana.”
"I sincerely hope the Commissioners bring a large sum of money from Central Government, as it is untenable that Tauranga’s ratepayers fully fund the extensive infrastructure investment required to fulfil Central Government’s urban growth agenda."
In addition to Clout's concerns about the loss of local democracy, he says it's clear four Commissioners working part-time (as outlined in their Terms of Reference) will never be able to satisfy the huge workload brought about by the multitude of issues and concerns raised by residents and ratepayers of our city.
"Much of elected members’ responsibilities centre around individual constituents who want to address a neighbourhood issue or council performance, whilst others want to explore opportunities for community facilities or private development."
Tauranga City Council acting chief executive Christine Jones welcomes the appointment of commissioners.
She says staff are looking forward to working with the commissioners to address the city’s pressing, growth-related issues.
“The Executive team has prepared a comprehensive briefing paper to assist commissioners when they take up their new roles on February 9," she says.
The commission’s term is expected to begin on February 9, 2021, and end after the triennial local authority elections on October 8, 2022.