Vil­lage Plan­ning slated

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

Porirua’s award-win­ning Vil­lage Plan­ning pro­gramme has come un­der fire for un­fair­ness, trig­ger­ing a re­view of how funds are al­lo­cated.

On May 31, a pro­posed bud­get for the 2013-2014 year was pulled from a coun­cil meet­ing agenda af­ter the Whitby Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion threat­ened to pub­licly com­plain that its top pri­or­ity, park­ing, had not been ap­proved.

The in­ci­dent trig­gered a re­view meet­ing on July 17 be­tween Porirua City Coun­cil staff and coun­cil­lors, where Kapi- Mana News un­der­stands Whitby’s $ 12,000 al­lo­ca­tion was in­creased to $28,000, in­clud­ing about $20,000 for a study of the sub­urb’s park­ing prob­lems.

Un­til the re­vised bud­get is re­leased on Au­gust 15, it will be un­clear whether other vil­lages have had their share of the $ 500,000 bud­get re­duced as a re­sult.

At the July 17 work­shop Vil­lage Plan­ning man­ager Ian Bar­low re­solved to make his cri­te­ria more trans­par­ent and to in­vite sub­mis­sions from vil­lages ear­lier, well be­fore the coun­cil’s An­nual Plan process.

‘‘It needs to be re­vised, re­viewed, needs to be more trans­par­ent,’’ said Whitby Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion chair Ge­off Mow­day.

‘‘We didn’t feel we had got a very good per­cent­age of the $500,000 when we pay a good pro­por­tion of the coun­cil rates.

‘‘Of course other vil­lages are en­ti­tled to money. What re­ally irked us was that park­ing for Pare­mata had been ap­proved. Where’s the equal­ity, where’s the fair­ness of this?’’

There was con­fu­sion over whether projects would be de­clined if the coun­cil con­sid­ered them ‘‘ busi­ness as usual’’, Mr Mow­day said.

All projects should be con­sid­ered for Vil­lage Plan­ning if they were a vil­lage’s top pri­or­ity, Mr Mow­day said.

‘‘We felt [park­ing at Lake­side] was an ur­gent need, the thing the vil­lage needed most.’’

Vil­lage Plan­ning man­ager Ian Bar­low said Vil­lage Plan­ning was about far more than money.

If a vil­lage iden­ti­fied a pro­ject, Mr Bar­low said he could help in many ways, whether fi­nan­cially, or li­ais­ing with or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the NZ Trans­port Agency, or clear­ing road­blocks within coun­cil de­part­ments to fast-track a pro­ject.

‘‘It’s not about the money. It would be bet­ter not to tell vil­lages how much it costs. That would be the ul­ti­mate,’’ Mr Bar­low said.

‘‘This de­bate about how much you get com­pared to how much some­one else gets rocks Vil­lage Plan­ning to the core.’’

When Vil­lage Plan­ning be­gan in 2005, the bud­get was $1 mil­lion and there were three vil­lages. Now there were 12 vil­lages, and this was the first year it had been im­pos­si­ble to con­sider ev­ery pro­ject, Mr Bar­low said.

Di­vid­ing the $500,000 be­tween 12 vil­lages evenly would de­feat the pur­pose of the pro­gramme, he said. Over time each vil­lage should get a fair share, he said.

‘‘The idea of the pro­gramme is to un­der­take projects for and on be­half of a com­mu­nity. Some will have projects that are go­ing to be ex­pen­sive. The only way to do that and bal­ance the books is to have some vil­lages hav­ing more [money] than oth­ers.’’

Whitby’s park­ing re­quest was lodged in April, late in the bud­get process, and more work was needed on it, Mr Bar­low said.

‘‘We need to know how much think­ing has gone into the de­sign ... and are there other op­tions? We have to be con­scious that we’re spend­ing ratepay­ers’ money.’’

Edi­to­rial page 10

Pro­ject boss: Vil­lage Plan­ning man­ager Ian Bar­low says the is­sue is not just about money.

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