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’.
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.