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Call for update in public

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Transparent Hawke's Bay will ask for today's update on the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme to be held entirely in public meeting time.

Hawke's Bay Regional Council meets today to hear a report from its investment company, particularly on progress around the water storage scheme in Central Hawke's Bay.

Transparent Hawke's Bay co-chairwoman Pauline Elliot said she would attend the meeting to hear the council review the investment company's progress including its expenditure of the dam to date.''But I also understand there are some other matters on the dam being discussed behind closed doors, in public excluded time.

"I believe it is a closed workshop with the councillors immediately after the general meeting but I think in the spirit of transparency, everything around the dam should be openly discussed with the public."

Regional council chairman Fenton Wilson said the planned workshop was not going ahead after today's meeting.

But the agenda listed a public excluded item where the council would discuss conflict of interest issues around the investment company's directors.

The investment company had three independent members including Andy Pearce, Jim Scotland and Sam Robinson.

The three regional council appointees were councillors Fenton Wilson, Christine Scott and Alan Dick. Andrew Newman was the managing director of the investment company.

Previous council meetings had discussed potential conflict on interest issues by having regional councillors on a board which was promoting the Ruataniwha dam. "This is in public excluded because it involves legally privileged information from a legal professional," Mr Wilson said.

Mrs Elliot was also critical of the $4.5 million already spent on the dam and the fact the budget was expected to increase to about $11 million by April 2014.

The Green Party this week called for the Environmental Protection Authority to extend the time for public submissions on the dam. The deadline is this Friday.

It was promoted by news of the project's dam break analysis which suggested Waipawa could be in danger if there was a major failure at the water storage site.

The party's water spokeswoman Eugenie Sage said the Government and regional council should give Waipawa residents more time to understand the dam break analysis and have a say on the matter.

 

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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