Power bloc could force change to wastewater scheme

By John Maslin

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The Whanganui Beyond 2030 quartet all made it onto council. From left are Alan Taylor, Graeme Young, David Bennett and Murray Cleveland. Photo/Natalie Sixtus.
The Whanganui Beyond 2030 quartet all made it onto council. From left are Alan Taylor, Graeme Young, David Bennett and Murray Cleveland. Photo/Natalie Sixtus.

Their campaign billboards said simply "change the council" and the electorate responded, getting all four men representing the Wanganui 2030 faction elected to the Whanganui District Council.

David Bennett, Alan Taylor, Murray Cleveland and Graeme Young will be sworn in as councillors early next month but their arrival will surely prompt a review of the city's $41 million wastewater treatment scheme which became an integral issue in this election.

This quartet will join councillors Rob Vinsen, Charlie Anderson and Philippa Baker-Hogan who have been staunch opponents to the scheme, arguing the city can't afford it. That bloc now represents a majority around the council table.

Mr Bennett said the vote showed that the people had "spoken clearly" and it represented an excellent result for the Wanganui 2030 team.

"We want to bring about change in Whanganui and we will do that," he said.

But he said it was never intended that the wastewater scheme would be the focus of this election for he and his colleagues.

"We set out with a clear intention of growing the district economically. But then the wastewater treatment plant became the focus because against all the advice the council carried on and signed up to a $41 million scheme.

"We've never been opposed to a wastewater scheme but we've argued that we must have one that's affordable and works," Mr Bennett said.

"The current scheme is incredibly unaffordable to many people in Whanganui and we can't let it happen."

He said the wastewater plant cannot be the sole focus of the new council.

"We need to bring families to come and live here. Opportunities for them do exist. And we can promote a lifestyle that other towns and cities can't match," he said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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