Colin Olds has been appointed South Wairarapa’s new councillor. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND
Former South Wairarapa councillor Colin Olds will be joining the new guard next month, filling a vacancy around the council table.
Olds, who was a Featherston Ward councillor from 2013 until 2019, was the highest polling unsuccessful candidate in the last election and was appointed to council on Wednesday.
He replaces outgoing councillor Ross Vickery, who has moved to Waihi.
From his house at Tauherenikau, Olds said he was confident he would hit the ground running when he was sworn in next month.
“I don’t plan on just occupying a seat around the table, I plan to get out there and work.”
He said he was aware residents had concerns about the council and he had attended two of three community meetings about rates.
“I understand how people feel. I understand the issues, and I think it’s really important that our council now starts to look at how it can rebuild its relationship with the community.
“That will be one of my key objectives – to do just that.”
He said the council had made the right decision to revisit the Long-Term Plan early next year and hoped it would produce a good outcome for ratepayers.
“There’s been a lot of criticism, and certainly from this council, about a lack of spending on infrastructure by previous councils.
“I was first elected in 2013. I know, hand on heart, that we applied money in every annual and long-term plan to our infrastructure.”
He said staffing levels back then were “minimal” and many projects were consultant-driven.
“It was probably difficult to get a full oversight of what was actually needed,” he said.
“To some extent, consultants can walk way scot-free and not be held accountable for the information they provide.
“I get a little frustrated with that. The finger is pointed at us. We’re only laypeople acting on the advice of experts.”
He acknowledged he would be re-joining the council during a time of huge change in local government, including the Three Waters reforms and the Future for Local Government Review.
He said he was “a little surprised” the Government mandated the Three Waters reforms but said it would “prove to be a reasonable result at at the end of the day”.
“Local government reform will be interesting now that we don’t have water to worry about.
“Water is a big part of council decision-making and expenditure.
“Without that, the makeup of local government will change considerably – I have no doubt about that at all.
“However, local government will still exist. We still have responsibilities to our community to provide a level of service, parks and reserves, amenities, and some of the niceties people enjoy. That’s what community is all about.”
Olds is also a supporter of Wairarapa-wide amalgamation.
“I have a passion for the Wairarapa-wide view.
“One central body of governance across Wairarapa with a good team of councillors, community boards, a CEO … it just seems to me to make a lot of sense.”
When discussing appointing Olds to the role on Wednesday, South Wairarapa councillors made it clear they wanted someone who could hit the ground running.
Councillor Brian Jephson said the council had “an advantage with Colin”.
“He’s been on council before, he can hit the ground running. He’s up to speed with how we operate.”
Councillor Rebecca Fox said having a team of experienced people would be “very helpful right now”.
It is understood Olds would be sworn in at a council meeting on December 15. – NZLDR