NEGOTIATING with a gun to your head cannot be easy ...

Is that why Whanganui chief executive Kym Fell was unwell over the weekend?

Mr Fell had spent the previous weeks trying to cut a deal over the treatment of waste from the major industries in the city - particularly those Talley group industries, Affco Imlay, Land Meats and Open Country Dairy.

He "bent over backwards" on the council's behalf - which would make anyone feel unwell - but got nowhere.

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Perhaps that was because the industries weren't that bothered about reaching agreement.

The longer the hiatus over the wastewater treatment plant went on, the longer their waste could be pumped out to sea, the longer they didn't have to pay any fees.

The council is already claiming substantial sums in unpaid fees from some of these businesses, so that gave them another bargaining chip.

And, anyway, what value an agreement that the industries can just shrug and walk away from whenever it suits them?

So the Talley companies are neither in nor out of the new $41 million wastewater plant.

They are doing what businesses do - exploiting a situation to make money.

Unfortunately, they are doing it at our expense.

While the Whanganui council has a civic responsibility to provide a wastewater system to accommodate its citizens and businesses, Talleys have no responsibility to Whanganui.

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And their treatment of unionised workers shows they can take the unscrupulous path if they choose.

A good effort by Mr Fell.

He grasped the nettle and forced a decision from the procrastinators ... even if it was a 'no decision'.

At least, it gives the rest of us a chance to move forward.

And if the Talley companies do decide to join the municipal wastewater scheme, I hope they are made to pay through the nose.