Land campaigner hunts votes

By Lawrence Gullery


A man who campaigned to stop the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park from being constructed on rural land has put his hand up to be elected on to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Allan Baldock, from Hastings, was one of five members of the Hawke's Bay Land Protection Group, which in 2009 ran a public campaign to convince community leaders rural land should not be given up for development.

The group lost its Environment Court appeal on the matter and the sports park was built in the following years.

Mr Baldock said the group had disbanded but his interest in land and environmental issues continued. He had originally served three terms on the regional council but was not re-elected at the 2005 elections. He had been encouraged to stand again following support from friends and colleagues, and would contest the Napier seat on the regional council.

"I've had a lot of people tell me they're concerned about the direction of the regional council.

"Some say it has lost focus and has made some very questionable decisions over the last few years.

"It's core functions have been swamped by the volume of water created by it's own dam project and questions around consultation and expenditure have not really been answered."

Mr Baldock believed there had been a lack of leadership and the emphasis on the dam had overridden regulatory functions "that are supposed to be protecting our environment".

He also said the regional council needed to stop "being an ATM" for the Hastings District Council.

"By this I mean that the Hastings council comes rushing to the regional council when it has a new project to fund. One of the latest is the hockey turf park facility. Regional council should not be funding sports facilities."

Mr Baldock said the regional council's submission to the Local Government Commission over the proposed amalgamation issue was "very strange" and did not strongly support the importance of the regional council and its function and role in Hawke's Bay .'

"I believe the regional council should be left alone as an environmental regulatory organisation and if Napier and Hastings want to amalgamate, they should go ahead.

"That is a decision which really needs to be left up to ratepayers, through a referendum."

He said Napier ratepayers needed better representation on the regional council and "I intend to provide it".

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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