Residents ask: What's the problem?

By Alisa Yong alisa.yong@age.co.nz -
1 comment
About 90 people gathered at the Carterton Events Centre to see the new draft governance models presented by LGC. PHOTO/ALISA YONG
About 90 people gathered at the Carterton Events Centre to see the new draft governance models presented by LGC. PHOTO/ALISA YONG

If it ain't broke don't fix it, was one Carterton man's advice to the Local Government Commission (LGC).

What was broken, and who should be fixing it, seemed to be a bone of contention for many Carterton people who spoke at Wednesday's LGC meeting at the Events Centre.

The meeting was touted as an opportunity for residents to talk to the LGC about their priorities for local government and for the commission to present its draft governance models, but most residents used the time to talk about the consultation process and their distrust of predetermined proposals that seemed to be coming from on high.

Addressing the audience of about 90 assembled residents, LGC chairman Sir Wira Gardiner said the meeting was all about them.

"This is your night. We will facilitate but we will minimise our participation unless you have questions you want us to respond to," Sir Wira said.

He said the draft governance models on display at the back of the room were just models and were not "cast or fixed in stone".

Mike Osborne was one of the first to talk, asking exactly what the LGC thought was wrong with local government.

"What are the problems that we are trying to solve? If we can get a shared understanding of what the problem is, then we as a community can take it from there," Mr Osborne said.

Ron Shaw said the consultation process was not good enough, and needed to be more interactive.

"So far we've actually heard nothing about what the people want when consultation actually happens," Mr Shaw said.

He suggested the LGC hold workshops with the community, otherwise "LGC will be shoving models down our throats that people don't want".

Another man asked if the Government and LGC thought local government was broken, saying he was a great believer in the expression "if it ain't broke don't fix it".

Sir Wira responded, saying: "If you think we are perfect then you're dreaming, mate.

"If you work from the principle that we can always improve ourselves and strengthen our communities, then we can always do better."

Linda Shaw's appeal for community-led solutions that would get community buy-in garnered a round of applause from the audience.

"If they [governance models] are forced on us, then there's no commitment from us as a community, then they will fail," Mrs Shaw said. But perhaps the biggest round of applause was for youth leader Rebecca Vergunst, who said the commission needed to find better ways of engaging with young people.

"One of our issues is consultation and just looking around here tonight we can see who has turned up, and it's great that people have turned up, but there is a gap with consulting with younger people, say in their 20s."

"They are the ones that are going to be raising kids in the next ten years in this town."

People needed to be less defensive about change, she said.

"There is nothing wrong with looking at what we are doing and seeing how we can do it better. Everyone makes goals of where they would like to be in five years, why can't we be the same?"

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