Poor Cynthia. Cynthia Bowers has suggested an Environmental Ombudsman for Hawke's Bay.

Given the heated debates about water quality and quantity, you'd think that the idea would get some serious consideration.

But no.

Cynthia put her head above the parapet and in time-honoured Hawke's Bay fashion everyone took aim. "Campaign fluff, unnecessary, she needs to brush up her knowledge of local government, that's a job for Parliament," and "ridiculous" were the immediate comments from current HBRC councillors Wilson, Barker, Scott and Belford. (HB Today, Sept 10, page 7).


Perhaps it is a goofy idea. Maybe it's a great idea. At least it is a positive response towards helping to solve the problems. Cynthia is a long-term elected councillor and deputy mayor of Hastings and deserves some respect from her fellow politicians.

All of the critics are standing in the election and all of them are talking about rebuilding trust in the council, encouraging healthy debate, working together and so on.

They're not showing many of those virtuous characteristics towards Cynthia's idea. This shows up the major issue facing voters. The endless squabbling between and within councils.

There has been a civil war raging at the regional council for the whole of the last term.

On the evidence of the Ombudsman suggestion, that is set to continue if the existing regime is returned to power. The regional council is scrapping with Hastings over the Havelock water. CHB is arguing with regional council over the sewage ponds.

Hastings is giving CHB stick over the state of the Tukituki. It seems to be half-time in the Napier versus Hastings fixture but that match is simmering away as usual.

After the amalgamation debate was put to bed, everyone was assured that a new day was dawning and the five councils would buddy up for the benefit of all. That has not happened and nor will it happen any time soon if the reaction to Cynthia's comment is anything to go by.

The age of reason is being superseded by the age of superstition and hysteria and that is bad news for governance, democracy and progress. Until we start making decisions based on scientific evidence and proof we will go nowhere. We desperately need consensus, co-operation and good manners.


I was at the meeting where Cynthia made the Ombudsman suggestion. At the same meeting Cr Tom Belford repeated the claim he has made for the last three years.

The Ruataniwha dam will only benefit 150 farmers in Central Hawke's Bay. No one else.

That flies in the face of all the evidence. I asked Tom if that meant the Port of Napier benefits only 100 or so wharfies. Tom smiled and walked away.

Rex Graham claimed once more that apple growing was uneconomic in CHB and therefore the business plan supporting the case for the dam was fatally flawed.

The facts I gleaned from one CHB orchard manager is that this season his 100-acre orchard has had the best crop ever, made the highest profit ever and he is actively seeking more land in CHB to grow more apples.

I know lots of people oppose the dam and that's fine, if the opposition is based on solid evidence preferably peer reviewed by independent authorities.

Otherwise all our debates about all our important issues degenerate into "ridiculous unnecessary campaign fluff" promoted by people who need to "brush up on their knowledge of local government".

In which case, you definitely should think twice about voting for them.

- Tim Gilbertson is standing as a candidate for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council in Hastings in the upcoming local government elections. Candidate for Hastings /Havelock Nth ward HBRC

- Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz