Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Pair criticise new plan process

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FILE
FILE

Two councillors are calling the Rotorua Lakes Council's annual plan process a "Clayton's consultation" after a three-hour workshop this week.

However, other councillors say that's not the case, the community is engaged, and they are just "political point scoring".


In March, the council decided not to consult on this year's annual plan under new rules set out by the Government allowing councils not to consult the public, unless significant changes were being made to long-term plans.

Instead, a discussion document was sent out with the council asking for feedback. Thirty-six people sent feedback.

Mike McVicker.
Mike McVicker.


Glenys Searancke.
Glenys Searancke.


Councillors Mike McVicker and Glenys Searancke described Wednesday's workshop as "Clayton's consultation", saying the old format of a formal submission process and three days of hearings better engaged the community.

They also said in their view the council's portfolio system, introduced after the 2013 election, was not capturing the community's voice adequately.

"I disagree with the process in principle," Mr McVicker said. "I don't think we are capturing what the community really wants."

Mrs Searancke said the old process allowed people to appear before councillors.

"Now the only people who know what's going on are the councillors controlling those portfolios."

But Economic Growth portfolio leader Dave Donaldson and Inner City portfolio leader Karen Hunt defended the new process.

"There was full public consultation on the long-term plan and everyone who submitted to that plan was sent a copy of the annual plan discussion document," Mr Donaldson said.

"There's reasons why the Government made these changes ... to save time and money, and it's really rich for councillors who have gone on about reducing staff and cutting cost to then turn round and want to tie staff up relitigating the long-term plan."

Mr Donaldson said it was ironic Mr McVicker and Mrs Searancke were both portfolio leaders when the portfolios were introduced.

"So I'm not really sure what their problem is, I just think it's political points scoring."

Ms Hunt said it was the first year of the new process so there was bound to be some uncertainty. She said in the past people would say they were over-consulted, while some said the council didn't listen to them anyway.

"I believe the portfolios have taken time to get up and running ... but we are all engaging with the various groups involved and the action plans arising from those already have community buy-in."

The council's strategy, policy and finance committee will meet on June 15 to recommend council adopt the annual plan on June 23.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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