Councillors cause stir with lobby group
‘‘I encourage the lobby group to have a good hard think about what best achieves constructive outcomes.’’
Three Otago regional councillors who have formed a ‘‘Dunstan Lobby’’ have been accused of ‘‘jumping on the horse, claiming to be the jockey’’.
Newly elected councillors Dr Maggie Lawton, of Wanaka and Michael Laws, of Cromwell, as well as second-term councillor Graeme Bell, of Alexandra have formed the Dunstan Lobby to ‘‘combine effective action’’ for their 55,000 constituents.
Otago Regional Council deputy chair Gretchen Robertson said councillors were not told the Dunstan Lobby was going to be formed, and while she supported constructive engagement with communities, she did not support creating division through lobbyist behaviours.
‘‘The ORC was on a pathway to changing the way we do things already, the Dunstan Lobby seems to have jumped on the horse and is claiming to be the jockey. I encourage the lobby group to have a good hard think about what best achieves constructive outcomes. Our ears are always open to emails or phone calls too and we encourage the public to contact us if they have an issue they wish to discuss at any time. We have many more structured opportunities for Dunstan communities to engage in consultation of a wide array of topics over the next couple of years too. Pests, biodiversity, river flows, urban water dischar- ges and public transport will be among the topics. Broad consultation occurs each annual planning cycle too.’’
The Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes Districts were two of the ORC’s five districts and for Otago to be successful ORC needed to serve them all, she said.
Chairman Stephen Woodhead said regional councillors did not represent individual constituencies, they were elected to govern the ORC.
‘‘It is structured that we get representation from around the region but then once you are elected you sign an oath that you will faithfully and impartially, and according to the best ... skill and judgement, execute and perform, in the best interests of the Otago region. There will be times you make a decision that may not be the best decision for your constituency but it is the best decision for Otago.’’
The Otago Regional Councillors.