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GAG candidates to fore

By Sam Hurley, Doug Laing

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Tom Belford speaking at the Grower Action Group (GAG) tractor parade, protest.
Tom Belford speaking at the Grower Action Group (GAG) tractor parade, protest.

After a tight race, Tom Belford was voted into Hawke's Bay Regional Council four days after election day, and says he is "humbled" to be chosen by voters in the Hastings constituency.

After preliminary results showed Mr Belford had a slim lead of 46 votes over Kevin Rose, the special votes were required to split the deadlock and the result was finalised yesterday.

He said more imaginative leadership from the regional council can help move Hawke's Bay from good to great in all its dimensions - economic, environmental and social.

He looked forward to changing the culture of the HBRC.

"Rebuilding confidence in it, and re-directing its path will require the persistent and collective efforts of at least five councillors, if not all nine.

"Rest assured I will be one of those pressing most energetically for change."

Mr Belford's inclusion means all four candidates backed by lobby group Grower Action Group (GAG) have won seats on the regional council.

GAG wanted to replace Hawke's Bay regional councillors following the council's firm stance against Twyford irrigation during last summer's drought and the group led a tractor rally last month, seeking to replace sitting Hawke's Bay Regional Council members. Defeated incumbent Kevin Rose said although it was natural for him to feel disappointment having failed to gain re-election, he accepted without any "rancour" or "bitterness" the decision of the people.

"I am democratic and when you enter the world of politics you are there, and rightly so, at the will of those whom you represent".

"It has been a privilege to represent the people of Hastings on the Regional Council for 15 years and I have gained great satisfaction from my role as a Councillor".

He also wished see the new council proceed with the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

"This scheme offers Hawke's Bay the chance of huge economic and social advancement. It would be a tragedy if it was aborted."

Three members of the Positive+Change ticket in the Napier City Council election will take their seats at the first meeting next month following last night's confirmation of the success of Nelson Park Ward candidate Mark Hamilton,

With 1054 votes in the final count, the construction company executive beat Mere Nepia by just eight votes - a "rollercoaster ride" over four days from a poll closing day preliminary majority of two votes, to 28 when late votes were counted on Sunday, through a 27-7 margin to Ms Nepia on the last special votes.

It's understood Mrs Nepia would seek a judicial recount.

In the results last night, new Mayor Bill Dalton had a final majority of 4955 over Positive+Change candidate and school principal Roy Sye, who did however, win a seat on the new Council.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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