Last week the Development & Environment Committee of the Hastings Council considered a report on Security Patrols.

The report included proposals to increase the staffing commitment for the Patrols, increase CCTV monitoring, provide more training to Patrol Officers, and so forth. The staff sought Councillors’ approval to conduct further public/stakeholder consultation on these recommendations, as well as a funding scheme.

As it happens, this was the first meeting of the Committee with HDC’s new “best and brightest” senior recruits from the Napier Council at the table. They would be HDC’s new Group Manager of Planning & Regulatory Services, John O’Shaunessy, and the new Group Manager of Strategy & Development, Dennis Morgan.

As the debate unfolded, and Councillors pursued various concerns, these two sat quietly, as the staffers they inherited fielded the questions. OK, so they’re new guys on the block, barely weeks into their jobs, and had not been involved in the Security Patrol review. Except …

About a month ago I sat through a Napier Council meeting where essentially the same issues — best approaches to community security — were on the table. And the senior officer staffing that decision was Napier’s then-Community Development Manager … Dennis Morgan. At that meeting, NCC decided to put, as I recall, $30,000 into a consultant study on how to best invest in community safety — e.g., more $$ for security cameras or what?

Clearly Mr Morgan has given community safety some thought. And Hastings Councillors would, one might think, benefit from knowing how Napier was handling the same issue, and why.

But until the Hastings Council discussion was about to end, and Councillor Bradshaw asked him directly about the Napier experience, Mr Morgan volunteered absolutely nothing. Bradshaw needed to persist to get anything out of him at all.

Morgan never did mention the consultant study … but maybe he can get his old Napier colleagues to share it when it’s completed. Yeah right! Hastings will probably need one of its own.

The whole performance was worrisome. It suggested one or more of the following:

Maybe Mr Morgan is in culture shock — he doesn’t yet appreciate that Hastings Councillors, unlike most of their Napier counterparts, actually have opinions and ask questions in public … which the staff is theoretically expected to answer with candor.

Maybe he actually didn’t appreciate that his insights into Napier’s experience were pertinent to how Hastings might proceed. That would be alarming.

Or maybe he’s waiting for amalgamation before he decides to share his knowledge.

Whatever his reason, Mr Morgan’s silence was deafening.

Tom Belford

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