Abuse of process
Porirua City Council’s hearing committee makes decisions on resource consent applications and also changes to the district plan provisions. Cr Liz Kelly is often the chair of the committee and its members sometimes include Cr Sheppard and Cr Latham.
The committee’s decisions influence our property rights and environment. It’s essential that the processes, procedures and conduct of the hearings are participatory, open and fair, and the persons making the decisions are competent.
It’s fundamentally inappropriate and undemocratic if the hearing process is subject to bias, predetermination, and rudeness by the councillors making up the hearing committee. It’s also wrong if the persons making the decisions at those hearings act in breach of the council’s own code of conduct. There are formal complaint options, however, these are ineffectual, and the only real check and balance in the system is the local body elections.
Fairness of the process is important and abuse of the process by elected representatives needs to be avoided. The best way to avoid abuse of process is to vote responsibly.
I won’t be voting for Cr Kelly. If Cr Latham and Cr Sheppard were standing in my ward I wouldn’t vote for them either.
An electioneering sign in the name of Cr Kelly has been erected on the eastern side of State Highway 1, just north of Porirua. The sign is larger than the permitted area for an election sign by 500 per cent and council staff has confirmed a resource consent is required but has not been obtained.
Cr Kelly is often the chair of the committee that makes decisions on applications for resource consent under the Resource Management Act and she would say she’s a fit and proper person to do so. A breach of the RM Act is subject to a maximum fine of $300,000.
There is an inconsistency between Cr Kelly’s claim for election as a community representative and decision maker, and the unlawfulness of a sign purporting to encourage voters her way. It would be best for all concerned if Cr Kelly withdrew her nomination for election. – BRIAN WARBURTON,
(Two letters abridged) PCC acting environment and regulatory services general manager Barbara Bercic responds to the latter part of the letter: Council staff have not confirmed to Mr Warburton that a resource consent is required but has not been obtained.
Election signs are classified as temporary signs as they are in place for a short duration. The Porirua City Council does not control election signs under the district plan because of their temporary nature. Instead, the council controls signs under two pieces of legislation: The Electoral (advertisements of a specified kind) Regulations 2005 and the Porirua City Council General Bylaw, Signs Bylaw Part 15.
The Electoral Regulations cover election signs up to three metres squared. If a sign is larger than that it is controlled by the signs bylaw. Under the bylaw, two aspects are considered:
Road safety, in that the sign is not a road hazard
The sign is on a structurally sound base.
The election sign your correspondent refers to has been placed over an existing sign structure which has been in place since 2003. The candidate’s sign complies with the road safety conditions in that it is of neutral colours and is positioned in a manner which does not pose a road safety hazard. The existing sign base is a substantial structure and we consider that it is structurally sound.