Brent Goodwin. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE
Masterton businessman Brent Goodwin is not standing for Masterton District Council again because he can no longer work with it as an organisation. But he is standing for Masterton Community Trust, though he has concerns with the level of disclosure to it from Trust House.
“I’m leaving because of the massive change in direction at council which I can no longer work with,” he said on Wednesday.
There had been a 60 per cent increase in staff in the past five years with no discernible matching lift in performance or services generally, and rates rises were always way ahead of inflation, he said.
Many councillors were cheerleaders and were so devoid of governance grit they would sooner spend a meeting debating what to do with dog registrations than pressing staff to seek improvements for operations or projects, he said.
The result was the public were kept in the dark.
He felt scrutiny of the council was also undermined by a rise in the number of public relations staff it employed, while at the same time the size of the media was shrinking.
“Council seems to be more image than performance conscious,” he said.
He has been on the council for about 15 years with a break in service for one term, two terms ago.
At council meetings he is frequently a critic of the number of staff the council employs and also the $295,000 the council provides each year in funding to Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History.
He frequently queries the visitor numbers the museum provides.
Goodwin is wanting to continue with Masterton Community Trust, formerly the Masterton Licensing Trust, and is standing to be a member of the trust.
The trust is a 94 per cent shareholder in Trust House Ltd, which is where all the assets, including 485 residential rental properties, are held.
Goodwin has been on the trust for a term and isn’t happy with the level of financial disclosure for the former state houses Trust House purchased for a bargain $19,000 each many years ago.
He was trying to work out if the profit from the houses seemingly vanished into overheads of the gambling empire.
“I’m hopeful that this election there will be some new candidates wanting to challenge the status quo.
“This organisation is worth $80 million. The shareholding public owns this and gets very little in return.”
He said Masterton gamblers dropped more than $5m a year into trust pokies.
This combined with rental income from the houses was some $8m a year that was seemingly taken out of the community, while the trust only gave back $2m in community grants.
Goodwin said the trust needed to be more transparent in its operations because even as a trustee he felt he was kept in the dark.
“Their books are not fully opened, even to trustees. With stronger leadership we can improve this.”
Carter joins SWDC mayoral race
Four in running for mayor
South Wairarapa councillor Lee Carter will challenge incumbent Viv Napier in October’s mayoral election.
Carter, who is also running to retain her Featherston Ward seat, announced her candidacy on Wednesday.
“In my time on council I have found it to be antiquated, with little having changed in 15 years,” she said.
“A council is only as good as the governance table allows it to be. We need to get better at communicating the complexities, the costs and delivery of work, particularly the larger and more complex capital projects.”
Carter also responded to comment on her attendance figures at council – 33 out of 40 meetings – the worst of the councillors.
“Highlighting meeting attendance is important,” she said.
“However, more importantly the question should be asked ‘what value and quality did councillors bring to the table when they were in attendance?’
“I ran for council openly acknowledging that I worked fulltime in Wellington.
“I have found the current council meeting system to be old fashioned and it does not cater for this day and age where many people work.
“We must provide opportunities for a variety of people to be a part of creating our future.”
Napier has confirmed she would stand for a second term.
Former councillor Dayle Harwood has also stated his intention to run, and Alex Beijen, a Martinborough resident, has also been confirmed.
Candidates must submit paperwork by noon, Friday, August 16. Polling day is Saturday, October 12.