Coun­cil called cal­lous as safety coun­cil funds cut

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

The South Waikato Safer Community Coun­cil has had its fund­ing cut by the South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil and much loved for­mer mayor Gor­don Blake has come for­ward call­ing the move cal­lous.

The group formed in the late 1990s was cre­ated to help po­lice and pro­mote safety within the community at a grass­roots level.

Mr Blake told South Waikato News that given the re­cent events such as the bru­tal beat­ing of the Gabolin­scys and the shoot­ing out­side the Toko­roa po­lice sta­tion last year, that now would be the time for the coun­cil to continue its sup­port of the group.

‘‘Given these events one would hope that our coun­cil­lors would sup­port a group like ours. We are here to sup­port many safety pro­grammes within our South Waikato community, our aim and ob­jec­tive is to sup­port and um­brella groups that con­trib­ute to the safety of the South Waikato community such as Cook Is­land War­dens. We take an ac­tive stance on do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and as­sist the po­lice when able to do so. We also help the night pa­trols in Pu­taruru, Ti­rau and Toko­roa. To say I am bit­terly dis­ap­pointed is an un­der­state­ment.’’

Mr Blake said he was ap­proached last year by mayor Neil Sin­clair to chair the group.

‘‘ Neil had se­ri­ous con­cerns about the fi­nances of the group, and rightly so. Neil told me to take the group and bring the fin- an­ces into or­der and in­di­cated that if this was done the group should continue to get fund­ing from coun­cil, which, with the help of our com­mit­tee we have done. We are sit­ting in a com­fort­able fi­nan­cial po­si­tion at present and can main­tain func­tion­ing for an­other 18 months.’’ Mr Blake said.

Mr Blake said com­mu­ni­ca­tion from coun­cil had been lim­ited.

‘‘We have asked for min­utes from coun­cil where they have dis­cussed SCC, these are min­utes the pub­lic are en­ti­tled too and yet many months later we are still wait­ing. We are also await­ing the re­port from the coun­cil rep on our board, Cr Anne Ed­meades. We want to know if we have done some­thing wrong so we can ad­dress the is­sue. But we have been left in the dark.‘‘

In a state­ment the SWDC said: ‘‘Coun­cil has li­aised with the Safer Community Coun­cil over sev­eral years re­gard­ing the de­liv­ery of agreed out­comes, ul­ti­mately de­cid­ing to re­duce fund­ing from $ 40,000 to $20,000. Coun­cil must en­sure good ac­count­abil­ity for fund­ing pro­vided and coun­cil had sev­eral per­for­mance based con­cerns. Early in the LTP 2012- 22 bud­get process, coun­cil iden­ti­fied the fund­ing of $20,000 as be­ing for ini­tia­tives to build safer com­mu­ni­ties; at the time it was not specif­i­cally des­ig­nated as SCC fund­ing. It is worth not­ing that dur­ing the LTP con­sul­ta­tion process no group, in­clud- ing SCC, put for­ward ap­pli­ca­tions, ideas or a de­sire to up­lift that fund­ing for new or ex­ist­ing ini­tia­tives. Dur­ing LTP fi­nal de­lib­er­a­tions Coun­cil re­moved this fund­ing of $20,000 com­pletely due to bud­get con­straints.

Mr Blake who has cham­pi­oned the South Waikato community for over half a cen­tury said SCC was some­thing he held dear to his heart.

‘‘This is some­thing my very dear friend and for­mer col­league, the late Bev Stur­geon started many years ago. It pains me that we are at this point, the safety of our community should be para­mount. I am sur­prised at the way this has been han­dled.‘‘

Toko­roa Se­nior Sergeant Graeme Hill is sur­prised by the de­ci­sion.

‘‘That’s very in­ter­est­ing. I am sur­prised about that.

‘‘I had not heard any­thing of that.

Safer Com­mu­ni­ties has been do­ing a re­ally good job, cov­er­ing all ar­eas.’’

‘‘That is an in­ter­est­ing place that they ( SWDC) have got them­selves in.’’

One of the groups likely to be af­fected by the fund­ing cut will be the Cook Is­land War­dens, who are man­aged by the Safer Com­mu­ni­ties Coun­cil.

‘‘They do a great job in the CBD. For­tu­nately for us we (have) the Cook Is­land War­dens there.’’ ‘‘ I don’t know what they (SWDC) are putting them­selves in.’’

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