There is a new trustee and a new chairperson at the Taranaki Electricity Trust (TET).

Rick Coplestone has been appointed as a trustee, and Alan Jamieson chairperson after previous chairperson John Campbell resigned at a meeting on March 20.

John says after 12 years serving his community as a trustee, it was "time to go". He says with five grandchildren who are all out of town, he and his wife want the free time to be able to spend more time with their family.

John's resignation meant there was a vacancy for a trustee in Ward B, which Stratford falls in and a new chairperson needed to be elected.

Alan, who has been a trustee for two years, was appointed chairperson at a meeting last week. He says he was one of two nominees for the role of chair, and after the vote by the six trustees resulted in a tie, it came down to a toss of a coin.

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Alan says trustees agreed to delay the appointment of a new chairperson until a 6th trustee was appointed.

At a meeting on March 27, trustees Andrew Wood and Mike Davey suggested the next highest polling candidate from the previous election should be appointed to the role of trustee.

Trustees Karen Schumacher and Alan Jamieson disagreed, saying an advert seeking expressions of interest would be a better option, given nearly two years had passed since the election.

The decision was made to advertise for expressions of interest, and adverts were placed in the Stratford Press and other newspapers. Alan says around 10 were received, and four candidates were interviewed.

"All were very good candidates, however, we only had one vacancy."

Alan says the interview panel liked Rick's strong links with the rural community and small clubs in the area.

"We felt this was a link we could otherwise be missing. He is knowledgeable about the rural community and people, and that was important for us."

With Rick also a Stratford District Councillor, and Alan Stratford's deputy mayor, when Council applies for funding from TET, Alan and Rick will have to declare a conflict of interest and can not vote.

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"I think, moving forward, this needs to be discussed by the trustees, because really, we have no more of a conflict than any Stratford resident. We gain no financial or other benefit ourselves from funding going to the council, all ratepayers benefit equally, councillors don't benefit any more than anyone else."

The trust began in 1993 when New Plymouth Energy merged with the Taranaki Electricity Power Board. It receives investment income which is distributed via grants to suitable applicants from the area previously supplied by the Taranaki Electric Power Board.

Alan says the trust currently has $100 million invested, and has given out in excess of $90 million in grants over the years.

The three Ward A trustees are Karen Schumacher, Ken Bedford (who is also the deputy chair) and Mike Davey. The Ward B trustees are Alan, RIck and Andrew Wood.
The next election is scheduled for June 2020.