Bound­aries con­tested

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT and CAITLIN WAL­LACE

A sup­posed ‘‘threat’’ from a Ti­rau coun­cil­lor to move the town un­der the Mata­mata Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil area has an­gered mayor Neil Sin­clair.

The dis­pute fol­lowed the re­lease of a pro­posal to merge the South Waikato dis­trict’s three wards into two, and in the process lose the Ti­rau Com­mu­nity Board (TCB).

The pro­posal, put for­ward for the 2016 rep­re­sen­ta­tion re­view, would see Ti­rau and Pu­taruru form part of the new ‘‘North’’ ward while the South would con­sist of Toko­roa.

Ti­rau ward coun­cil­lor Terry Mag­ill wasted no time sub­mit­ting on the con­tro­ver­sial changes, stat­ing that the best step for­ward would be to re­tain the same num­ber of wards, coun­cil­lors and com­mu­nity boards.

Sin­clair said he was shocked by the ‘‘threat’’ that the ‘‘public dis­quiet’’ around Ti­rau’s se­ces­sion from the dis­trict would only be soft­ened if the coun­cil ac­cepted its sub­mis­sion points.

‘‘ I al­ways re­garded Ti­rau as part of the dis­trict so I was per­turbed that some­body would make the threat that ‘if you don’t do what we want we will move’. That makes my role as mayor ter­ri­bly hard to op­er­ate un­der the con­cept of hav­ing the threat there, do you make the right de­ci­sion be­cause it’s a threat or be­cause it’s the right de­ci­sion?’’

But in his sub­mis­sion, which matched that of the TCB, Mag­ill said he only high­lighted the fact that many res­i­dents had ap­proached him and ques­tioned whether the town would be bet­ter off un­der the Mata­mata Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil.

‘‘I feel it is my duty to let the coun­cil know that . . . it should in no way be con­sid­ered a threat, that’s school­boy backyard stuff.’’

The for­mer Mata­mata Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil­lor said he didn’t know if it would be in the best in­ter­est of Ti­rau to go with Mata­mata Pi­ako.

He said the core of his sub­mis­sion was about en­sur­ing strong rep­re­sen­ta­tion for Ti­rau in the fu­ture.

‘‘ They [ the mayor and chief ex­ec­u­tive] seemed to be more con­cerned about this se­ces­sion is­sue than the other three points.’’

He ral­lied more than 100 res­i­dents to a public meet­ing held in Ti­rau last Tues­day where swear­ing and yelling were strong con­tenders.

An­gry res­i­dents said the town didn’t get the at­ten­tion it de­served from the coun­cil, and ex­pla­na­tions by the mayor and chief ex­ec­u­tive were la­belled as ‘‘p*** poor’’ and ‘‘b*******.’’

One res­i­dent who wished to re­main anony­mous, said the town needed some­one like Mag­ill.

He said he wouldn’t have known about the meet­ing had it not been for the in­de­pen­dent let­ter Mag­ill sent to all res­i­dents.

Mag­ill said the role of the ward coun­cil­lor and TCB were vi­tal.

‘‘I feel quite pas­sion­ate that there will be a loss of democ­racy

I al­ways re­garded Ti­rau as part of the dis­trict so I was per­turbed that some­body would make the threat that ‘if you don’t do what we want we will move’.

Neil Sin­clair,

mayor of South Waikato

in the north of the dis­trict [if the plan goes ahead].

Sin­clair said it did not seem as if Mag­ill’s sub­mis­sion was well thought out.

‘‘In the let­ter where he says that . . . ‘ we’re be­ing shafted by our Toko­roa cousins’, [that] is per­turb­ing to me par­tic­u­larly when the coun­cil I have led and the six Toko­roa coun­cil­lors ac­cepted the con­cept of har­mon­i­sa­tion of our rates which has meant $399,103 has been put into the Ti­rau com­mu­nity to har­monise wa­ter sew­er­age and hall rates.’’

Ev­ery­one in the dis­trict pays $291 for that but the real cost for Ti­rau would be about $667, he said. ‘‘So the con­cept that the rest of the dis­trict doesn’t care for Ti­rau, I find it quite in­sult­ing.’’

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Hobbs said Mag­ill has con­stantly pushed the ‘‘us against them’’ [Ti­rau] con­cept.

‘‘ If coun­cil­lor Mag­ill was at the ma­jor­ity of coun­cil meet­ings he’d hear that coun­cil is pos­i­tive and proac­tive around pro­vid­ing ser­vices for Ti­rau as much as any­where else in the dis­trict.’’

Mag­ill had the low­est at­ten­dance of all coun­cil­lors to date, at­tend­ing 40 of the 68 meet­ings in the last cal­en­dar year.

Res­i­dents have un­til next Mon­day to get their sub­mis­sions in. De­lib­er­a­tions, which Mag­ill will be ex­cluded from, will take place on June 25.

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