As Tauranga city commissioners have released more details of one of the city’s “biggest projects”, some in the business community are calling on the central government to keep them going.
At a council meeting on Monday, commissioners made an amendment to the current long-range plan, so the community could provide feedback to the precinct.
There are two community consultation options that will determine how much money will be spent and what facilities will be built.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley told 1News the commissioners were making good progress.
“The most important thing the commissioners have done is restore confidence to partners, especially with staff implementing this smart growth strategy around housing in future growth areas.”
He says that before the commissioners were created, the old council was an ’embarrassment’ and he would like to see the commissioners stay to see some projects completed.
But Mount Maunganui, Residents, Ratepayer & Retailers chairman Micheal O’Neill says there is a serious lack of tolerance and the council must return to a democracy.
“We have members refusing to pay their fees, until democracy is restored in Tauranga, and I could see it getting worse.
He says a recent council ratepayer satisfaction survey rated the commissioners “extremely badly”.
However, Scott Adams of the Urban Taskforce says the city has seen ‘decades of underinvestment’ and ‘poor decision-making’ by councillors, and any return to local body elections must attract the right candidates. .
Recruitment specialist Bernadette Ryan-Hopkins says the city’s population is growing rapidly and attracting talent to Tauranga depends on the “progress” and “momentum” the city is experiencing.
Local Government of New Zealand (LGNZ) told 1News that it is actively advocating for more candidate diversity, which helps reduce “one-dimensional thinking” and brings “multiple perspectives” to the table.
He says that when communities lose faith in elected officials, LGNZ “advocates that central government should allow citizens to call a recall election through a petition process.
“That would ensure an appropriate level of democracy.”
LGNZ is currently running Future of Government workshops for local government reform, to generate ‘future thinking’ and what changes might be needed.
Meanwhile, the government is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether the commissioners will remain in office or whether a new council will be formed in October.