Abuse of process

Kapi-Mana News - - LETTERS -

Edi­tor,

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,

Ti­tahi Bay.

(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.

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