Ken’s advice: Councillors need to stay focused
Ken Douglas moved from his high-profile trade union role to local politics easily, and he recognised the pitfalls immediately.
‘‘I have a lot of regrets about what’s not been done here in Porirua,’’ he said.
‘‘But the pressure of fitting the central government reporting and strategies into the local govern- ment process is difficult.
‘‘You’re often polishing things to death or you have costs put upon you – it’s ridiculous at times.’’
Paying GST on rates was a ‘‘tax on a tax’’, Douglas said, and an issue he railed against often. Leaky homes, the cost of Transmission Gully and the impact of the highway on the city, and Porirua’s strategic place in the region were among the subjects that dominated his 18 years.
Cutting services, as is outlined in the 2016/17 annual plan reflected the pressures today, he said.
‘‘We need to be future-proofing Porirua.
‘‘Some [ratepayers] might have Lambton Quay appetites, but that’s not the reality. We need central government funding for city development.’’
Pinpointing his council achievements was difficult, but said he did his best to debate issues in an informed way and convince colleagues to think strategically.
‘‘I’ve got increasingly grumpy. I just want councillors to be focused – they get distracted too easily.’’
Connectivity between ratepayers and the council was crucial and was largely achieved in Porirua, Douglas said.
Ken Douglas speaks at a union demonstration in Wellington in October 1977.