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