Attend a ‘workshop’ organised by Mayor Bill Dalton.

I attended my first official council function of 2014, a ‘workshop’ on reorganisation organised by the Napier City Council for all councillors and senior staff in Hawke’s Bay.

When a senior elected leader stood up at the conclusion of the meeting and said he had just wasted his afternoon, learning nothing, he was greeted with a smattering of applause, then dead silence. I confess to being one of those putting hands together.

The NCC-selected consultants lectured us for three plus hours on their totally irrelevant experiences in Australia. Then added their observations on Auckland, which could be summarised in a sentence: It’s the implementation part that’s tough. Duh!

Unfortunately the consultants, who were paid $7,000 for their afternoon’s work, had not even bothered to read the Winder Report, which details where HB councils could save $10 million per year if amalgamation were fully implemented. Had they done so, their reactions might have had some value. Instead they offered sage advice like: It will be important to identify the areas where savings can be found so the public will know what to expect. Another Duh!

If these guys were auditioning for more work in Hawke’s Bay … good luck! They’re all yours, Bill.

Pressed by a councillor, the consultants ultimately conceded that amalgamation in Auckland had in fact succeeded in delivering a unified strategic vision for that region, along with better decision-making surrounding major infrastructure and facilities investment … exactly the sort of thing HB councils love to squabble about, before proceeding independently and duplicating effort!

I have to say, with most of the councillors and senior staff of Hawke’s Bay couped up in the War Memorial Centre for half a day (more, counting travel time), I think we owe the people of Hawke’s Bay a ‘make-good’ day!

Thanks Bill.

Tom Belford

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  1. Well said , Tom…Why do we always need to be admitting we don’t really know what we’re doing ( meaning most councillors) and bring in supposed experts to tell us?
    I thought we elected you guys because you were supposedly competent to run things on our behalf…this excludes you , Senor Belford, as I do know you really do believe what you say and do. !!

  2. Another NCC fiasco driven by the Mayor and CEO.
    Not content with the dud Dollery report–the author never having visited the Bay–the highly paid consultants running this charade had never read the Winder report that Dalton supported, nor the LGC reports pertinent to the region.
    Simply unbelievable, until you realise who is leading this ship of fools.
    Meanwhile our hapless mayor posing as a minor blogger refutes ALL of the reports from Statistics NZ, LGC, Winder etc by saying that WDC and CHB are doing OK and will not face a steadily bleaker economic future if they remain independent of a amalgamated region.
    How does he support this risible comment when Wairoa has faced a 20% drop in population and CHB is relying–according to him on the dam proceeding { which is a regional project} but today we learn it may well be delayed–if it ever goes ahead.
    He then laments the loss of high paying jobs at the CHB, forgetting that the majority of high income earners on the staff of the CHB live either in Havelock North or Hastings.
    Clearly, 2014 will not be the year that our mayor refrains from being economical with the truth.

  3. It is a fine line between “nit picking” and what can be considered fair criticism of a process. This allows a defence against anyone rocking the establishment boat. However this article from Tom Belford sounds like a reasonable critique of what has become routine practise by (some) councillors of local government by obfuscation and smoke and mirrors. Rocking the establishment boat as Tom may have done here can lead to some unpleasantness, but that is often an indication it really is a rat you can smell.

  4. Mr Belford,
    We need amalgamation like a hole in the head, a few of you intelligent one’s know it, but most don’t.
    We will not ever save any money, that is a massive fiction story.
    All it is going to do is shift a few boundary’s here and there.
    In the Hawkes Bay we need to create as many jobs as we can, in fact the more the better, all of the local bodies, are doing a fabulous job of providing the population with a fantastic place to live, and long may it continue, now what is amalgamation going to do and achieve, nothing, it is going to cut jobs so they say…why we don’t need that, outside of Napier and Hastings the other smaller towns are going to get swallowed up, and lost in the “FOG” we don’t need that, surely common sense will prevail, as if you take a look around, all of the Bay is doing fabulously well so why screw it all up.
    At the very least, we the Ratepayers deserve a referendum to have our say, and it must be the majority rules, no if’s no but’s.
    Remember we live in a democracy not a Dictatorship, and I definitely don’t want an elected Councilor voting on my behalf on something like this, it must be voted for.

  5. If Nicholson was going to introduce anything (remotely) worth the Councillor’s time, then the Samsom Report and its findings would have been that something to talk around.

    He might have also pointed out that the Independent Local Government Review Panel also recommended a series of ‘Joint Organisations’ (JO) be established throughout NSW to take responsibility for regional planning and advocacy and some service delivery.

    This recommendation (to me) didn’t tip the baby out with the bath water. Neither does it appear to trample the grassroots democracy and voice that constituents (certainly in our region – CHB) are feeling they’d lose.

    In the Australian context, JO’s are intended to have anchoring councils that contain regional centres, and these centres would attract the bulk of future development and growth.


    Rather than amalgamating Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama (slightly bigger than CHB, Tararua and Wairoa) the panel wrote that “closer collaboration through a Joint Organisation should enable a sufficient response to regional challenges for some time to come.” Of course I didn’t hear what you heard Tom, so I’m like Shirley Valentine talking to the wall!

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