Not unanimous

In Mayor Annette's open letter (September 22), Annette stated: "Council unanimously decided in March to proceed with the new Cardno-designed plant."

At that time I was the only councillor to vote against this new scheme, the vote was therefore not unanimous.

When it became clear a major wet industry would not become involved in this unaffordable and unnecessary scheme, councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan and councillor Rob Vinsen voted against it as well.

The decision of this council to proceed was clearly far from unanimous.


Whanganui District councillor

Charlie Anderson is standing for the Whanganui District Council and Whanganui District Health Board in the October elections.

Councillor replies

My detractors will be out in force following the mayor's public condemnation of my challenge to her and the chief executive (CE) regarding what I consider the unsubstantiated $27.1 million cost of the old MWH plant.

My "offset costs" letter to the editor was abridged but included me clarifying the comments were "in my opinion", so I take full responsibility and certainly did not speak on behalf of council.

I informed the mayor as early as 2.39pm on Monday that I was trying to arrange a meeting to discuss this issue with the CE and asked her to ring me. She didn't ring me until 4.29pm, when she had already sent her letter to the Chronicle.

She is fully aware I have a meeting this week to discuss the issue with the CE, yet she was determined to condemn me -- without, to my knowledge, discussing this first with council or the CE Review Committee.

The mayor was implicated in my letter, has a clear conflict in this issue and has taken it on her own back to have a swipe at me, in this critical election period.

She negatively slants my long-standing integrity as a poor council employer (over 11 years) but provides no facts to support that. As our only employee, the full council must have the final say over our CE's employment, as much for his protection as his employers'.

I already have enormous respect for our new CE, but that doesn't mean I won't challenge him or any staff member in public if I feel my concerns are being ignored or delayed.

Elected members should not have to lodge a LGOIMA request to receive information they are entitled to and responsible for.


Whanganui District Councillor

Philippa Baker-Hogan is a candidate for the Whanganui District Council and Whanganui District Health Board in the October election.

Wrong council

Jay Kuten asks in his column (September 29) "could Randhir Dahya, Ray Stevens, Philippa Baker-Hogan and Rob Vinsen say what they knew about the decision-making for the old WWTP?" No I can't, as neither Cr Baker-Hogan nor myself were on council during the design period 2004-05.

Ray Stevens, Rangi Wills and Sue Westwood were; I suggest you ask them.

Jay, you also misrepresent my views on the WWTP issue.

Firstly, I do not have a "proposal", nor am I qualified to give one. That is the role of suitably qualified consultants.

What I can do is to point council and the public to the views of these professionals, and that is the nub of the problem -- council has not canvassed nor listened to any professional whose solution does not fit the "the old plant won't work and never will work" theme.

The peer reviews by AECOM and CH2MBECA offer no upgrade solution as their terms of reference were to only peer review the developed design put forward by Mr Mike McKoy of CardnoBTO.

Jay's column misrepresents my position on the WWTP also. I supported the $41.2m Cardno Plant back in March on the basis that the trade waste industries are prepared to pay their share of the cost.

But that changed in June. Both Tasman and the Talley's Group said that the $41.2m Cardno plant is unaffordable for them. Talley's said they will build their own plant, Tasman said they would rather stay in but can't pay the $1.2m pa levy they will be asked for. Others say the Talley's Group are still in the scheme as they haven't signed the Memorandum of Understanding.

There is no incentive for them to do so now, as council has proceeded to build the $41.2m Cardno plant anyway.

They are in the happy position of not having to do anything -- the ratepayers of Whanganui are catering for their needs so they can just design their own plant, and in two years' time make a decision on whether they want to proceed with it or to offer a take-it-or-leave-it deal to council.

Instead of proceeding as if Talley's were in the scheme, council should have given Talley's notice and redesigned the plant accordingly.

That is why the Ministry of Health is saying it is foolhardy to proceed without signed trade waste agreements in place.


Whanganui District councillor

Rob Vinsen is a candidate for the Whanganui District Council in the October election.

New brand

I read with interest the mayor's announcement of the impending Whanganui brand launch to an invite-only audience.

I have written to her of my belief that the brand should have been presented and approved for release at a council meeting, as it is important to the districts' collective identity and the promotion of Whanganui and therefore reflects on council's leadership.

I await with bated breath to see the brand and the reaction of our citizens.

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub will be the guest speaker -- another surprise and not the best choice in my view. The press will use this as another opportunity to raise his earlier references to zombie towns.

An effective brand won't save us; it's another small piece of the puzzle -- let's hope it's the right one.


Helen Craig is a candidate for the Whanganui mayoralty and district council in the October elections.

Waimarie on slip

I note, with some relief, that the Waimarie is now out of the river and perched on the bank by Kowhai Park in order that the vessel can be examined and certified as fit to carry passengers, not to mention a bit of a facelift.

I do, however, have some concerns about the whole operation of this riverboat and question its value to the city. We all know that this commercial enterprise has been supported by ratepayers' money via council generosity year after year to ensure its continuance.

We are led to believe this "attraction" is vital to the existence of Wanganui and thus causes hordes of people to visit Wanganui just to partake of a boat ride up and down a dirty river. Publicity would suggest that people from all over the world flock to Wanganui because of this life-changing experience that is unavailable elsewhere in the world.

What rubbish ... people travelling through the area see a boat trip as something that may be worth experiencing as they pass through.

Can you imagine any rationally minded person from China, Russia or Chile thinking ... "Hell, I have got to go to New Zealand so I can travel on that boat in Wanganui"?

Sorry, but I really think that some of the promoters of "Wanganui ... the place to visit" need to take a hard look at themselves.

In a slightly different vein, who has paid for the alterations to the riverbank, how much and into whose bank account have the funds been credited, bearing in mind that Mr Awa is now a "real person", presumably with his own financial facilities?


Councillors knew

Tim Stubbs writes (Letters, September 21) of his concern that council management dictates to councillors, whereas it should be the other way around. As evidence, Mr Stubbs points out that "councillors", based on what he heard said by a council candidate at the meetings at the Concert Chamber on September 7 and 8, did not know if the wastewater plant contract had been signed or not.

To explain to Mr Stubbs, I was the only candidate in those two Chronicle-organised evenings (I attended both) who stated that I did not know if the contract had been signed yet. This was part of an answer from me alone to a question from the audience.

As I am not yet a sitting councillor, I found out about the status of the contract when everybody else did, by reading about it in the Chronicle (September 21, front page).

As the Whanganui District Council alluded in a footnote to Mr Stubbs' letter, only sitting councillors would have been aware of the status of the contract ahead of a public announcement, not we prospective candidates.

I had not bothered to try and ask a sitting councillor specifically about the signing before I spoke at the September 8 meeting, because being aware of the clear instruction to sign from council to CEO Kym Fell, I knew the contract would be signed as soon as practicable as a matter of mandated council procedure, as my answer to the audience did in fact carry on to explain.

Hope that helps clear up any confusion of how "councillors" didn't know.


Stan Hood is a candidate for the Whanganui District Council in the October elections.

Misuse of power

Remember when our grinning leader sold shares in the power companies to help the "mums and dads"? Yeah, right.

Meridian, one of the "new" power companies, has announced that it wants to give "$1.3 million aggregate financial assistance" (whatever that means, but it smells like a rat) to 14 selected company executives.

I was one of the thousands who built those power plants in the 60s and 70s.

We built them good so they provided almost free power for Kiwis -- until these "creative accountants" (National Government) discovered a way of printing money by selling shares in them.

I know a young couple with a child whose power bill was $450 last month for power that probably cost $45 at the most. Our children have become slaves.