The Tauranga City Council meeting has begun with chants and horns from protesters clearly heard from inside the council chambers.
The Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance has hosted a protest against rates rises today - the same day Tauranga City Council is adopting the Long-term Plan 2021-2031.
The alliance had responded to "a lot of demand" from concerned residents and organised the "ratepayers rise up" protest - a march to the council building from The Strand carpark.
The meeting began with commission chairwoman Anne Tolley reading out housekeeping but the sirens, yelling and chants from a crowd outside could be distinctly heard.
Former Tauranga City councillor Andrew Hollis led chants to coincide with the start of the meeting.
"2,4,6,8 we want fairer rates. When do we want it? Now! What do we want? Democracy. When do we want it? Now"
NZ Taxpayer's Union's Jordan Williams spoke, telling commissioners he and the "hundreds" of protesters were holding them to account and threatened the group would only grow larger.
After his presentation, he and most of the public left to continue the chanting outside, leaving about a dozen people in the gallery.
Williams' speech was loudly applauded by the crowd, with some saying "well done". Michael O'Neil said to protestors outside: "We achieved what we wanted".
About 100 protesters were heard chanting outside the council building "tell the council 1,2,3, we don't want your LTP".
Protesters held signs saying: 'No to a 22% rates increase,' 'commissioners out, democracy in', 'more transparency' and 'fairer rates'.
The public gallery in the council chambers has filled up with protesters who have had to leave their placards at the door.
Earlier, O'Neil asked the crowd if they were passionate, if they were angry, to which they yelled "yes".
"I'm angry too!," he replied.
It comes after an overall 22 per cent average rate rise was set last month by commissioners at the conclusion of the Long-term Plan 2021-31 deliberations.
TRA member Philip Brown told the crowd their rates would more than double because of "unelected commissioners looking down from their ivory tower."
As the protest began outside the council building this afternoon cheering and horn tooting could be heard.
Police and security are present and protesters are holding signs saying "we don't want your LTP," "unelected, unwelcome,"and "the commissioners are dreamers".
An alliance steering group member, Ben Sokimi, said the alliance was hosting the protest "basically speaking out and giving people an opportunity to speak out".
Mount Maunganui resident Susan Hodkinson was waiting for the bus to the CBD when she told the Bay of Plenty Times she was wearing ski gear over the top of her clothes to protect her from the rain.
"It's just a protest just to let them know that we're not with them – it's not democracy," she said.
"The commissioners are just doing what the Tauranga City Council wants to do, which I guess is what central government wants to do which is to make everything big but it's just not sustainable.
"I just think [rates rises] is not sustainable – not for me, I'm 71, I don't have any more ability to earn money. You can't get blood out of stone."
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