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LTP process in deadlock

Carterton councillors reached a stalemate yesterday, bringing the Long-Term Plan [LTP] process to a temporary halt.

Councillors had previously indicated a desire to reallocate $520k of Better Off funding from cycle trails and instead use it for three waters projects.

However, revisiting the decision would involve holding and notifying the public of an Extraordinary Hearings Committee meeting and there were concerns this would delay the LTP process and affect auditing.

Four elected members voted to accept the decisions of the LTP Hearings Committee as they stood, with the Better Off funding still allocated to trails, and four voted against.

After this motion failed, another motion was put forward to hold an Extraordinary Hearings Committee meeting to reconsider the decision on trails funding.

This motion also failed, with four voting ‘for’ and four ‘against’.

In the camp wanting to hold an extraordinary Hearings Committee Meeting were Mayor Ron Mark and councillors Steve Cretney, Steve Lawrence, and Grace Ayling.

Against were: councillors Brian Deller, Robyn Cherry Campbell, Lou Newman, and Dale Williams.

Councillor Steve Gallon was absent.

Once both motions had failed to pass, the result was that the LTP “does not progress”, Mark said.

The mayor said he would stand by a pre-election commitment to not use his mayoral casting vote, an option that can resolve a tied vote at a meeting.

The stalemate was solved after a break under the guise of “new information” being received that would essentially allow a redo of a failed motion.

The new information was that the LTP would not progress and that councillors had changed their minds on the motions.

Councillors then voted unanimously to hold an Extraordinary Hearings Committee meeting where a decision on cycle trails funding was changed and Better Off funding to the tune of $520k was reallocated from trails to “a three waters infrastructure project” for the 2024-25 year.

It is anticipated this move will further reduce the projected rates increase by 0.5 per cent to about 13 per cent.

When yesterday’s council meeting was adjourned, notice of the Extraordinary Hearings Committee meeting was given on the council’s website about 20 minutes before this meeting began.

Extraordinary meetings must be publicly notified as soon as practicable before the meeting is held.

Councillors then ratified the reallocation in their reconvened council meeting, securing the fate of the LTP.

Before the close of this meeting, councillor Steve Cretney was voted in as the new deputy mayor following Dale Williams’ resignation from the role last week. -NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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