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No breakthrough in Mayoral fracas: councillor

November 3, 2023 November 2023 No Comments

 By Councillor Aidan Ellims

In mid-October an Extraordinary council meeting was called by councillors and held at the Greytown Town Centre. The purpose of this meeting was for councillors to meet with Mayor Martin to discuss his lack of performance as Mayor leading both councillors and the council.

All nine councillors were very disappointed and frustrated in Mayor Martin’s behaviour over recent months and the purpose of the both the letter and Extraordinary meeting was to collectively discuss the matters with him, and look for ways to move forward and improve.

Councillors were initially heartened when Mayor Martin said to media that he would discuss the issues with councillors and “try to regain their confidence.” 

However, 12 days since the vote of no confidence, he has not communicated with any councillor to work through these matters.

On Thursday, 20 October in Martinborough, councillors and Mayor Martin attended an important Long Term Plan all day workshop. After five hours the Mayor got up and walked out of the meeting without providing an apology or explanation as to where he was going. I have been told that Mayor Martin attended a photo shoot in Masterton.

The Local Government Act details that the role of a Mayor is to, amongst other things, lead the development of the territorial authority’s (council) plans, including the long term and annual plans, policies and budgets for consideration by the members (councillors) of the territorial authority.

All nine councillor’s are united in that we are continuing to work as hard as possible to serve the residents and ratepayers of South Wairarapa despite Mayor Martin’s lack of leadership.

Over the last two months Wellington Water has been providing councillors with information in the lead up to the 2024 Long Term Plan. This information has detailed what the state of our Thyree Waters infrastructure across the district is and where there needs to be further investment. (The Long Term Plan is a budget of what council will spend in the coming 10 years through to 2034, while the Annual Plan completed earlier this year was setting the budget for 2023/24 financial year.)

Wellington Water provided us with some telling facts ie; we have 209 kilometres of water pipes, all underground and 26 percent are considered in critical condition. Some 37 percent or 77.2km need to be replaced in the next 30 years, so 2.6 kilometres needs to be replaced every year for 30 years> Currently we are only replacing 1.2 kilometres of our pipes each year which as you can see is nowhere near what is required.

Of our drinking water pipes, 4 percent or 5 kilometres of pipes are in very poor condition. This is one of many areas where councillors will have to make decisions on investing in increased renewals of drinking water pipes against other priorities which comes at a cost and may impact on rates in the coming years.

One piece of good news is that the investment SWDC and Wellington Water has made over the years in our water treatment plants has ensured that we have UV filtration operating in all of our drinking water plants so we are not going to experience an issue similar to that  which occurred in Queenstown in the last couple of months. While we still need to install secondary filter barriers at the treatment plants, this and other work will need to continue as the water standards are constantly being reviewed.

At the end of October, Waka Kotahi advised Council that they would continue 100 percent funding the Cape Palliser Road as a Special Purpose Road for another 3 years from July 2024. 

This  gives council the opportunity to design and implement a resilient plan, ensuring that the Cape Palliser Road remains open for many years to come.

This has occurred because the Cape Palliser Residents and Ratepayers Association, MP Kieran McAnaulty, Interim CEO Paul Gardner and councillors all wrote to Waka Kotahi supporting the continued funding. 

Originally, Waka Kotahi’s Board were going to make their decision in August, but this was deferred to September and finally we heard the result in late October. Congratulations to all those who have been involved in successfully changing Waka Kotahi’s original plan.

Finally, another piece of good news is that the Martinborough Christmas Parade will be back for 2023, occurring on Saturday, 9 December. After not happening in 2022, members of the community have approached the Martinborough Community Board and other groups like the Menz Shed who are all working together in planning to get this event up and running again. If you’d like to register to be involved, please email: angela.brown@swdc.govt.nz

All the best for November as the countdown starts towards Christmas and the holiday season. If you wish to contact me on any issues, please email me on aidan.ellims@swdc.govt.nz

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