What’s going on here?!

Why does the HB Regional Council seem to be at war with the Hastings Council … or more precisely, with HDC’s management of various infrastructure assets?

Lately, HBRC has taken HDC to task for …

Not having stormwater management plans in place … ultimately trouncing HDC before a panel of independent hearings officers.

Not tending properly to a series of dams that are supposed to protect Havelock North from flooding.

Not having water management and conservation plans in place for several of its consented water bores.

Not dealing adequately with odours coming from the new wastewater treatment plant in Clive.

What’s next? Now I’m hearing of concerns about HDC overlooking improper industrial and stormwater discharges, including into ground and ponds over the unconfined aquifer.

What’s the explanation?

  • Is HDC’s management of its infrastructure going through some kind of meltdown?
  • Or is past nonchalance or incompetence finally catching up with HDC?
  • Are regulators and compliance officers at HBRC pursuing some sort of vendettas against their opposite numbers at HDC?
  • Or is HBRC trying to flex its muscles and demonstrate its value as an essential, independent environmental enforcement body?
  • Is it all of the above?

Further, in view of the political embarrassment such public altercations cause, can all this really be happening at a staff level, to the surprise of elected leaders?

And what does all this say about the case for amalgamation?

Would amalgamation force bureaucratic heads to bang together on issues like these in a unitary authority, producing earlier and reasonable solutions … as opposed to public bun fights that wind up costing ratepayers, who wind up paying for unnecessary fines and legal costs?

Or would amalgamation remove the checks and balances that are needed precisely to ensure that competing agendas and priorities are thrashed out in full public view?

In any event, it all appears a bit unseemly, don’t you think? Perhaps it’s time for Jimmy Carter to fly in for a peacekeeping mission!

Tom Belford

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1 Comment

  1. Excuse me for speaking my mind in public – I know it isn’t the Hawke’s Bay way, but I’ve only been living here for 27 years. Quite frankly, the call for amalgamating local bodies in this region is total bullshit, advanced by a small group of self-interested business leaders and politicians purely to further their own greedy self interests. No need for me to name them, everybody knows who they are. An independent Regional Council – for all its faults – is now our only defence against incompetence and negligence at the territorial council, central government and iwi levels. And vica versa.

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