Councillor Sheppard breaks ranks on contentious financial issues
The benefits of the Sister Cities programme, questioning the annual contracts to Porirua Chamber of Commerce and even closing Cannons Creek Pool – Tim Sheppard is not afraid to put forward his views.
Last month the Northern ward councillor sent an email ‘‘ broadcast’’ to many of his constituents, the subject being the proposed rates rise forecast in this year’s Porirua City Council draft annual plan.
He was exhorting residents to make a submission to register their displeasure at the average residential rates rise of more than 4 per cent.
Sheppard said the falling income from Cannons Creek Pool was of concern and that $1 million more in savings was needed across the board.
‘‘Perhaps we need to bite the bullet and close the loss-making Cannons Creek Pool,’’ he said. ‘‘Perhaps we should question the $ 275,000 of annual contracts granted to the Porirua Chamber of Commerce.’’
His comments, especially regarding the pool, have created a stir.
Heather Goode from Plimmerton asked in her draft annual plan submission that it remain open.
‘‘It is always very well used when I’m there and it has very low fees. I love the mixing of our communities that happens at Cannons Creek Pool.
‘‘The Porirua Aquatic Centre is quite a long distance away and has the disadvantage of not being all one depth.’’
Another submitter, Horst Maczuga from Plimmerton, said Cannons Creek Pool was ‘‘ a luxury for the community’’.
‘‘We have an excellent Arena with this facility.’’
Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said it was important Sheppard fronted his views in the public spotlight or to his colleagues, rather than in an email, as he had done.
Sheppard said the annual plan process was an excellent opportunity for the public, and himself, to air views on their local authority.
‘‘I’m asking questions that I think some of my colleagues don’t want to.
‘‘There are financial problems that need to be addressed. I’m in a minority when it comes to this and I accept that, but this is what democracy allows us to do.’’
Sheppard pointed to the submission by the Porirua Economic Development Group.
In its submission, the group raised ‘‘ disturbing aspects in the draft annual plan, like the proposed average rates rise being much higher than the 2.9 percent planned in the 2012-22 long term plan and rises in expenses and a net deficit’’.
Sheppard said the intention was to close Cannons Creek Pool after the Aquatic Centre was built. He was not in favour of a closure.
‘‘ I’m asking questions. It’s unlikely the pool will ever be closed and I’m not advocating that.
‘‘But there needs to be more drilling down to understand why revenue is falling and why rates are rising like they are.’’
Questioning: Porirua City councillor Tim Sheppard wants more questions asked about the council’s financial policies.