COUN­CIL­LOR’S VIEW Com­mu­ni­ca­tion im­prov­ing


Af­ter two years as a

CHB Dis­trict coun­cil­lor, I’ve re­flected on the ques­tion I am asked most: “How are you find­ing coun­cil?”

I’m not kid­ding, I get asked that ques­tion at least 20 times a week. Peo­ple give me an ex­pec­tant look. They know they’ll get an in­ter­est­ing an­swer.

We’ve come a fair dis­tance. Coun­cil is far more cus­tomer and com­mu­nity-fo­cused than two years ago. That’s fan­tas­tic and some­thing many of the new coun­cil­lors cam­paigned on. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is pump­ing. Great. Com­mu­nity voice is be­ing sought. Nice. How­ever, in my recipe book, the proof of the pud­ding is al­ways in the eat­ing.

I’ve yet to be con­vinced that the pace of im­ple­ment­ing bulk projects like those in the ‘big wa­ter story’ can be sus­tained in an af­ford­able way for ratepay­ers. At the time I voted for a more con­ser­va­tive pro­gramme to up­grade wa­ter and waste­water in­fras­truc­ture but the other pro­posal won. C’est la vie. I hope I’m proved wrong.

As many sub­mit­ters men­tioned dur­ing the 2018 Long Term Plan con­sul­ta­tion, the cur­rent cli­mate cer­tainly suits con­trac­tors — a sit­u­a­tion where if coun­cil isn’t care­ful, it will be backed into a cor­ner and forced to pay the ab­so­lute pre­mium. Some­thing our com­mu­ni­ties can­not af­ford. I’m hopeful that staff are across this and are work­ing on the di­rec­tive that af­ford­abil­ity and in­no­va­tion is key.

I’m un­apolo­getic that I con­tinue to ask the hard ques­tions about af­ford­abil­ity, pri­or­i­ties, and strate­gic di­rec­tion. In my opin­ion, there are still far too many pub­licly ex­cluded meet­ings and trans­parency is a con­cern. Mov­ing for­ward, I would not to be too hasty in con­grat­u­lat­ing our­selves on a job well done. We need to learn from the mis­takes of the past, not recre­ate them. How am I find­ing coun­cil? To be hon­est, the cas­tle in the clouds looks won­der­ful — now it’s time to shore up the foun­da­tions.

■ Shel­ley Burne-Field is a first term CHB Dis­trict coun­cil­lor

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