Leadership stalling progress Councillors

By LAWRENCE GULLERY


Political and executive leaders of the region's councils are "dragging the chain" on a study looking at Hawke's Bay's prosperity, according to councillors.

A perceived lack of progress on the study was raised at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's corporate and strategic committee meeting in Napier yesterday.

Councillors Neil Kirton and Tim Gilbertson said it was publicly accepted the prosperity study was really a report looking at the benefits of amalgamation.

Consultant Peter Winder's work on stage one of the $100,000 study was released in August and councillors were keen to see stage two completed as soon as possible.

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson said he believed the study had not slowed and Mr Winder would deliver stage two on time.

Councillor Alan Dick also did not have the same concerns as councillors Kirton and Gilbertson.

"It's not an amalgamation report, it's about prosperity and identifying impediments to achieve that.

"We responded to public pressure from a lobby group called A Better Hawke's Bay which wanted the study done.

"But rather blatantly they have revealed their real interest is in amalgamation."

Councillor Christine Scott said stage one clearly identified the most important element that could move the region's prosperity forward was the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project.

Cr Kirton responded by saying a "substantial element" outlined in stage one to generate prosperity included the way councils governed.

"And that needs to be the focus of a significant aspect of the work going forward," Cr Kirton said.

"In terms of progress we have made, in my view there has been a dragging of the chain by our leadership for several months.

"We've had a constant hindrance being placed in the way of progress and that is generated by a lack of political will to proceed because of the findings that have emerged already."

The council's leadership was the stumbling block preventing "forward momentum" on initiatives such as the shared services proposal between the councils.

"So I urge councillors and leaders to get on and produce results.

"Local shared services have been frustrated at every turn and I am not confident we will get the share services foreshadowed because of a lack of executive and political will to make it happen."

Initial work on setting up share services with councils would be reported to the regional council at a meeting on November 28.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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