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Stockley resigns, heads back to UK

Carterton councillor Rob Stockley has resigned. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Carterton councillor Rob Stockley has resigned due to family commitments overseas.

Councillors will decide next month whether they will fill his position or leave it vacant until next year’s local government election.

Stockley was elected to the Carterton District Council in 2019 and held portfolios in community engagement and community development.

He was a member of the Policy and Strategy Committee, Infrastructure and Services Committee, Audit and Risk Committee, Place Making Advisory Group, and the Walking and Cycling Advisory Group.

Stockley said the decision had been a difficult one because he was committed to standing again in the 2022 local body elections.

However, he needed to put his family first, he said.

“Our circumstances have changed, and we are relocating to the UK to support a family member in need.

“I am sad to be leaving New Zealand but also excited for the opportunities it may provide for our girls.”

His resignation will take effect from Thursday, December 16.

Stockley said he had enjoyed his time serving the Carterton community.

“I am thankful to all those who have engaged with me – both in support and in challenging me.

“Robust and frank discussion is an essential part of an elected member’s relationship with the community.

“Carterton is full of engaged and passionate people who want nothing but success for our cool little district.

“If you enjoy helping others, then I would strongly encourage you to consider standing for council next year.”

He said there was no shortage of willing, engaged people in Carterton and said a variety of backgrounds and opinions was needed at the council table.

“Some people really agree with me, others really don’t agree with me, but everyone without exception is really committed to Carterton succeeding, and I think that is really healthy.”

He said budding candidates for local government needed “a hunger for Carterton’s success”.

Stockley said he stood for election with the goal of making local government more accessible.

“You come to council thinking things are very fluid, malleable, and easy to change.

“Then you look at things like the Rating Act, Resource Management Act, Local Government Act, and you realise that most of what council does is prescribed, and there isn’t much opportunity to change things.

“What you can do is go out and meet people and communicate and try to help explain decisions and get people engaged.”

He said the council’s greatest success while he was an elected member was innovation in engagement with the Big Jar of Ideas exercise preceding the Long Term Plan.

The Big Jar of Ideas attracted 715 ideas to help inform the plan.

One of the biggest challenges Stockley faced was making rating decisions. Carterton has the highest average residential rates per capita in New Zealand.

“You come into the role thinking that there must be something we can do about rates,” Stockley said.

“Then you look under the covers, and you realise there’s a lot of history that has got us to where we are today – investment decisions, even levels of service.

“There’s not as much wriggle room as you expect there will be.”

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was sad to be losing an “engaged and community-focused councillor”.

“It’s really unfortunate to lose a councillor before the end of their term, but I respect Rob for putting his family first and being upfront with the community about his intentions,” Lang said.

“We will really miss Rob’s presence on council. He has been a truly passionate councillor, contributing robustly to conversations and commonsense thought leadership.”

The Local Government Act does not allow a by-election this close to the next election period, so this won’t trigger a by-election or additional cost to ratepayers.

Elected members will be asked to decide at the December 15 council meeting whether they will appoint someone to the vacancy or carry the vacancy through to the October election.

This is the second resignation of the current group of elected members in Carterton. Councillor Steffen Bertram resigned earlier this year. He was replaced by councillor Dale Williams through a by-election.

Meanwhile, South Wairarapa, councillors met on Wednesday to decide whether they will fill a vacancy left by the resignation of councillor Ross Vickery last month, or leave it empty.

A by-election was required earlier this year in South Wairarapa to fill a vacancy on the Featherston Community Board after the resignation of Sophronia Smith.

An earlier by-election was held in 2020 to fill vacancies on the Featherston and Greytown community boards.— NZLDR

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