Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Rob Kent offers his advice to voters

2 comments
Rob Kent puts forward his plans for the Rotorua Lakes Council if he becomes mayor of the district.
Rob Kent puts forward his plans for the Rotorua Lakes Council if he becomes mayor of the district.

Rotorua mayoral candidate Rob Kent wants to get back to basics and says while he doesn't have a magic wand, he can offer Rotorua a steady hand and is not afraid to ask the hard questions.

Mr Kent said he had firm ideas about how the district should be run and wanted to offer his advice to Rotorua's voters before they decided who would be mayor in October's elections.

He said it was time to reflect on what, in his opinion, the council had achieved over the past three years.

"Rate take up by 13.94 per cent, debt increased by $7.35 million since the end of June 2013, $14.7 million capital works not done last year and $12.2 million capital works not done this, $4.5 million senselessly being wasted on a combined library and health hub instead of separating them, empty Green Corridor cycle-ways in the wrong place because no-one would listen, a destroyed City Focus that will be a safety nightmare, public transport in shambles, even Christmas trees."

He said the current decision-making process, in his opinion, side stepped the public election process, causing everything council did to be done twice.

"Well I'm not going to promise you a magic wand, nor pages of meaningless waffle and spin.

"Nor am I going to give you pages of governance theory."

Mr Kent said he had lived, worked, and travelled in many countries, and his advice and expertise had helped organisations in many parts of the world.

"The council is a $100 million-plus turnover business.

"Its stock-holders are you, the ratepayers and citizens of Rotorua. It needs to get back to basics of core business and economic development that actually achieves more than pretty brochures and pages of meaningless policies and reports."

He said the council needed to be managed as an efficient business.

"It needs proper financial control with a Finance Committee that has the skills to set proper debt reduction plans in place and start operating the council within its means.

"It needs a Performance Committee making sure that everything this council does is done to exemplary standard, whether that's making sure the public toilets are clean or that road-sides are not covered in rubbish.

"It needs to ensure the budgets set for council expenditure are used to greatest effect in the interests of Rotorua and its people," he said.

"Above all it needs a full council that can act and think as intelligent individuals in Rotorua's best interests, listening and acting on advice from the Te Arawa Board, the Rural Community Board and the Lakes Community Board, who need to be sat at the council table as policy decisions are decided.

"All three will have a representative at the full council to offer input and advice when it counts in my council.

"They won't vote however, because unless they are properly publicly elected councillors they cannot be held liable for decisions that by law have to be made only by those who have stood and won full election to council by the whole community.

"Those individuals all take an oath to act in the best interests of Rotorua. It is time they were held properly accountable to that oath as the elected individuals they are."

Mr Kent said, in his opinion, it would take "one hell of an independent leader as mediator to sort out what I see looming after October 8".

Rotorua's six other mayoral candidates respond to Mr Kent's statement.
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Reynold Macpherson
The council is more than a $100 million business requiring rigorous financial oversight. It must also deliver on infrastructure, social services and regulations. And boost community well-being and economic prosperity in culturally and environmentally sensitive ways.

Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayer members didn't endorse him as their mayoral candidate and encouraged him to stand as a councillor to avoid splitting the anti-Chadwick vote.

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John Rakei-Clark
I agree with Mr Kent. In my opinion and based on Mr Kent's examples above our present council has let every rate payer down and has wasted our rates, everyone's biggest investment.

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Steve Chadwick
When I peel away what in my opinion is the negativity ... cited as background to this policy, I can see two committee of council that currently exist, simply named something else, a stripping of voting rights from iwi and no Audit and Risk committee which is clearly an irresponsible oversight.

This council has a long-term sustainable financial strategy developed in response to an unsustainable debt we inherited.

The approach is focused on debt reduction, investing prudently in our infrastructure, maintaining service delivery while also finding efficiencies and savings.

This has been endorsed by Audit NZ and Fitch Rating Agency.

It has been a tough three years to get back on track while also investing in growth.

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Frances Louis
It seems Rob Kent has recognised, like many of us, that Rotorua Lakes Council has become ... a place where council money grows on trees.

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RangiMarie Kingi
Rotorua needs a starting point for change.Maori own the water, Maori own rates charges. Rotorua Maori Council is inevitable.

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Mark Gould
Mr Kent's observations are correct and he is to be congratulated for his approach. I look forward to working with him again.

By far the most urgent matter facing a new mayor and an incoming council will be that of bringing the elected representatives together as a team that acts in the best interest of the entire community.

Mr Kent quite rightly alludes to the current issues with regard to groups with predetermined positions on matters and it is my hope that the voters will consider this very seriously when deciding who to represent them for the next three years.

A new council with strong leadership will be able to quickly address debt and investments and then get on with the job of making Rotorua a leader within the cities of New Zealand.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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