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Goodwin plots a return to council

Former Masterton councillor Brent Goodwin. PHOTO/FILE

A familiar face is set to run for Masterton District Council later this year, bringing with him 15 years of council experience.

Former councillor and Masterton businessman Brent Goodwin has announced his intentions to join the ranks of elected members, come October.

Goodwin, who was the highest polling urban ward candidate in 2016, has served five terms as a Masterton councillor.

He did not stand for re-election in 2019 because he was “disgusted at the massive staff cost increases which a majority of councillors approved”.

He is a trustee on the Masterton Community Trust.

Goodwin, who confirmed his bid for a seat on council this week, said many others in the community had indicated they would also run, “with similar concerns to mine around high rates, poor accountability, little transparency, shocking consultation, and the civic centre debacle”.

“There is a very real chance of a major shake-up of our council and some necessary change,” Goodwin said.

“This current council – well, six of them – are not listening to ratepayers nor reading the challenging environment that prevails.”

Goodwin said in the time that Lyn Patterson had been mayor, “we’ve seen staff numbers increase from 65 full-time employees to 134 – the annual cost to ratepayers is up from $5.6 million to $14m”.

“There has been an increase of eight staff in infrastructure, building control, and regulatory services, which I do support – it’s the other 61 extras I wish to trim.”

He said the increasing staff numbers was not due to central government devolving responsibilities to council, which had been cited by some elected members and staff previously.

“Relatively simple projects such as greening Queen St and the Town Square shouldn’t need a parks and reserves manager, two assistant managers, their personal assistants, and three policy co-ordinators to direct a contractor to plant x plants, maintain them for y years, for z dollars.

“You could even add a penalty clause for non-performance.”

Elected members are responsible for governance and for setting policies for the council.

Each council directly employs one staff member, the chief executive, who employs the remainder of the staff on behalf of the council.

On the civic facility front, Goodwin had previously called for councillors to opt out of committing to a civic centre in his Long-Term Plan submission last year.

“It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s a bad time to launch such a large, non-essential project,” he said at the time.

“We are lucky to have the Carterton Events Centre 12 minutes’ drive away, and you could comfortably delay your decision for, say, six years.” — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.

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