CHB mayor, councillors sign off with speeches

By Nicki Harper

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CHB mayor Peter Butler made a final speech at a council meeting today. Photo/File
CHB mayor Peter Butler made a final speech at a council meeting today. Photo/File

The CHB District Council held its final meeting for the current term yesterday, and heard valedictory speeches from retiring mayor Peter Butler, and councillors Terry Story and Andrew Watts.

Mr Butler, who has been mayor for two terms, said it seemed like only yesterday that he was first elected, at the time thinking he didn't have a show of toppling incumbent mayor Trish Giddens.

"When I was told the job was mine, you could have knocked me over with a feather."

After walking into a bare office on his first day, he said he had endeavoured over the years to make it a friendly, welcoming place for the councillors, staff and general public.

"I want to thank you all for giving me the time and space to settle in, and for not being too harsh on a greenhorn mayor," he said.

He said he was initially inspired to stand at a time when the district was facing nine per cent compounding rate rises over nine years, which he had helped reduce during his tenure, with the help of the other councillors and staff.

He thanked all the staff members from each department by name, including chief executive John Freeman, and the councillors and his wife Jeanette.

"I would like to thank you all for the job you are doing to make CHB a great place to live."

Third-term councillor Terry Story reflected on how a neighbourhood stoush in 2006 over some council-owned trees that needed to be removed prompted him to enter council.

"With all my hair loss during my dealings with the council, it clearly indicated to me that there must be a better way."

After his election the following year he took part in a rates review, and was involved in a big issue of the time, the proposal for council to buy the Aramoana woolshed, which was later rejected in favour of private ownership, as the Porangahau ratepayers wanted.

He said there had been moments over the last term when combat had been required, the amalgamation issue being a case in point, of which he was a supporter.

"As a councillor I do not believe that we handled the subject matter in a very dignified way, because the in-house friendships we have with one another tend to cloud issues when matters become personal.

He thanked Mr Butler, the staff he dealt with the most, and his fellow councillors for their friendship and support, and also thanked his wife Clare for her unwavering support.

Mr Watts, who has had a single term in council, firstly thanked his wife Janet, his four children, his two lawyer brothers and Ross McDonald, who had held the fort at his much-neglected business over the last three years.

He said shining a light on the regulatory department in the wake of complaints from members of the building industry had proven challenging.

"No future councillor should have to endure what I and my family have been put through or simply doing what is right for your community.

"I have had to deal with unbelievable circumstances, including sustained personal attacks from some of those elected, as well as senior staff.

"Although vindicated now, there has been a complete unwillingness to trust my judgment or information.

"No-one must ever think they are too small to make a difference when faced with similar circumstances."

He said that although he was leaving somewhat disillusioned, he took comfort in the fact that the community was now more politically aware, and that he was leaving with his integrity intact.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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