EXCLUSIVE: Bowers' shock move

By Victoria White

4 comments
NEW LEAF: After 15 years as Hastings deputy mayor, Cynthia Bowers hopes to take on new challenges as a Hawke's Bay Regional councillor. PHOTO/Paul Taylor
NEW LEAF: After 15 years as Hastings deputy mayor, Cynthia Bowers hopes to take on new challenges as a Hawke's Bay Regional councillor. PHOTO/Paul Taylor

After 21 years on Hastings District Council, it is time for a new direction and a new set of challenges for deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers.

Although it had been a hard decision to make, yesterday Mrs Bowers announced she would be vacating her seat in the hope of gaining one at Hawke's Bay Regional Council, after becoming increasingly concerned about environmental issues facing the region.

"I've reached the point where I've thought 'Well, you can either whittle away on these things from the sidelines and you can try to influence change, or you can actually get yourself around the table and have a direct input'.

"They're really important issues and I'm just not prepared to sit back any longer and leave that to someone else to try to fix ... I want to get in there and bring about the change myself."

Mrs Bowers, who has been deputy mayor since 2001, said she had recognised it was "probably time for a change around the table at Hastings District Council".

She had enjoyed her time and was proud of her achievements.

While there was "still a tremendous amount of work to be done", she said she had given it 21 years and a lot of effort and energy.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said Mrs Bowers had been a fantastic, outstanding deputy mayor, who had worked incredibly hard.

While he supported her decision, he said it would "leave a big hole in the district council ... but I think she's got a lot to offer in the environmental sphere".

Since choosing her as his deputy in 2001, Mr Yule said there had not been one day he regretted doing so.

With a local government tenure stretching back to 1995, Mrs Bowers hoped her skills and experience could help build better relationships between the regional and district councils.

Councillors from both needed to meet regularly to discuss issues - which had not been happening.

"It's not them and us, it's about all of us working together to achieve a common direction."

Although she supported the Ruataniwha Dam, Mrs Bowers said the regional council's focus on it was "to the detriment of other issues vital to the region's future".

"This, coupled with the debilitating and dysfunctional rift across the council table, means that the Hastings constituency has not had the attention to which it is entitled."

The issues which concerned her most included water, particularly the Heretaunga aquifer and rivers, and consents for water bottling plants, fracking, land use, coastal erosion, climate change and regional transport.

"The regional council must be more bold and visionary in terms of safe-guarding our environment and in listening to the aspirations and needs of constituents," she said, citing the Hastings council's lead in making the district GE-free and prohibiting fracking within the catchment of the Heretaunga aquifer.

"Both of these initiatives need to be picked up by the regional council and put in place for the whole region. They have declined the opportunity to do so. I have the commitment, track record and experience to work to make this happen.

"I hope that that I am given the opportunity to continue my work for Hastings in this new capacity."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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