Vil­lage funds stoush

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Porirua sub­urbs risk hav­ing city projects snuck into their vil­lage plan­ning bud­gets, Porirua city coun­cil­lor Tim Shep­pard warns.

Coun­cil of­fi­cers are putting for­ward their own civic projects for con­sid­er­a­tion in the vil­lage plan­ning scheme, Mr Shep­pard said at a Te Komiti meet­ing last Thurs­day.

‘‘[Of­fi­cers] de­velop lo­cal com­mu­nity plans with their own pri­or­i­ties. They’re not ini­ti­ated by the lo­cal vil­lage and they’re not a pri­or­ity for the lo­cal vil­lage, but [rather] they’re ini­ti­ated by coun­cil,’’ he said.

Mr Shep­pard was re­fer­ring to a coun­cil sug­ges­tion last month that Plim­mer­ton com­plete a miss­ing sec­tion of the Ara Harakeke walk­way within its vil­lage plan­ning bud­get. The com­mu­nity re­jected the idea.

‘‘That is not con­sis­tent with the orig­i­nal con­cept of bot­tom- up de­ci­sion-mak­ing,’’ Mr Shep­pard said. ‘‘I wouldn’t like [projects] to be lever­aged so that the com­mu­nity felt they can’t really af­ford them and they have to fund their own peo­ple to project man­age it.’’

The at­trac­tion of vil­lage plan­ning for coun­cil of­fi­cers is its $600,000 bud­get at a time when many city projects are squeezed for cash, coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Simp­son said.

‘‘From a staff point of view, the vil­lage plan­ning bud­get is guar­an­teed. It was a con­sis­tent fund­ing source, re­gard­less of the mer­its of the project. There’s a sec­ond bite at the cherry.’’

The be­hav­iour un­der­mines the demo­cratic ideals of vil­lage plan­ning, Mr Simp­son said.

‘‘The pur­pose of vil­lage plan­ning could be threat­ened if it be­comes a more wide­spread process.’’

The line be­tween a vil­lage pri­or­ity and a coun­cil pri­or­ity can be tricky to draw, said coun­cil vil­lages plan­ning man­ager Ian Bar­low.

Projects like Ara Harakeke are not a pri­or­ity in Plim­mer­ton, which al­ready en­joys a large sec­tion of the walk­way, but are em­braced by com­mu­ni­ties such as Pukerua Bay.

Some coun­cil projects won’t get com­pleted for years un­less they are em­braced by vil­lages, Mr Bar­low said. Plim­mer­ton’s vil­lage plan­ning would be able to get a 50 per cent sub­sidy from the NZ Trans­port Agency for im­prov­ing walk­ways which could be ac­cessed now through vil­lage plan­ning bud­gets, he said. But that deal could be with­drawn by the time a new walk­way project is submitted through the coun­cil’s an­nual plan process, and then the coun­cil could not af­ford the project.

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