Prominent Kāpiti campaigner Christopher Ruthe argues that representative democracy in the KCDC is ‘as dead as a pig slaughtered’ for ‘the fantasy of the Guru Gateway.’
He says the Kāpiti Coast Council has voted to proceed with a Gateway project that will initially cost ratepayers $3 million, with ongoing costs likely to exceed $250,000 a year over the next 10 years.
(Mr Ruthe is a well-known lawyer who helped found the Coastal Ratepayers United and, more recently, Restore Our Books Budget ( ROBB) which successfully opposed swingeing library book cuts by the Council)
On the Gateway project, he says: “So let us pre-celebrate a rate rise of $500 per household for 2021/22 , while we still have the money.
“Ratepayers are paying for a transit facility that should be paid for by the Department of Conservation. It has facilities around NZ.
“I have spoken to them (DoC). They say it is money badly spent– they have more pressing needs.”
Blame lies with Councillors, says Mr Ruthe
Mr Ruthe continues: “So Kapiti ratepayers have agreed to pay for a Government project because our elected representatives say they were voted in to spend rates this way.
“Most people support a bio security hub. However 2 surveys carried out in the past 2 weeks, with 1450 participating, showed 72% are strongly against this particular expensive building.
“Councillors Buswell, Cootes, Elliott, Handford, McCann and Prvanov — all on the left on the political spectrum — voted for a project that is primarily for the benefit of private tourist companies.
“As Mr Cooper, CEO of EcoTours, said to these councillors ‘we have highlighted our concerns as to the public backlash of this building being built with the perception of ratepayers that it is solely benefitting two commercial businesses’.
Council buildings ‘left to rot’
“These Councillors — knowing there are millions that need to be spent on the closed Waikanae library, the closed Community Centre Building and the decrepit Paraparaumu Memorial Hall — decided to leave these to rot, presumably just to please their Guru so they do not get abused as naysayers or neo-colonialists or racists.”
‘Democracy in KCDC is as dead as a pig slaughtered’
“Representative democracy in KCDC is as dead as a pig slaughtered on the Guru Gateway Fantasy. This is based on the following evidence,” says Mr Ruthe.
- First, Councillors rejected the latest surveys showing 72% ratepayers object.
- Secondly, they considered their own personal support of subsidizing private enterprise as an overriding concern, rather than voting according to their constituents’ views.
- Thirdly, they decided the project costing a minimum of $4.6 million is trivial. It failed to meet KCDC’s rules as to what is significant, Thus there will be no hearings to consider the merits of the project.
- Some may consider this a rather outrageous abuse of power to ensure the public is prevented from having access to their right to be heard, enshrined by Parliament in the Resource Management Act.
- Councillor Elliot stated on Facebook she had made up her mind days before the meeting. The Mayor had his mind predetermined So the public who spent up to 3 hours waiting to be heard were not being listened to. Other councillors had also indicated a predetermination.
An expensive transit lounge for a quick check in
“The cost of $4.6 million probably underestimates the real cost by millions. Think of the $7 million Aquatic Centre ( originally ) costing $22 million,” he says.
“We will be ( paying ) $77,000 annually in ratepayer subsidies for staffing costs. For 35 years the bio-check has not needed KCDC staff. Now it will. It is a departure lounge facility. Visitors to the Island will be in there for 10 or so minutes.
“The cost to ratepayers is possibly going to be 3 times the disclosed amount. KCDC is relying on the building causing a jump in tourists from 15,000 to 58,000 post Covid 19.“
Mr Ruthe reports that Mr Glen Cooper, an island tour operator, told the KCDC:
‘The assumption that we build a gateway and numbers will increase by 300% is absurd and shows an extreme lack of commercial acumen of the report writer. There has been small increase in numbers since 2007 some of which is in line with international tourism numbers.‘
His knowledge as a business operator was rejected, says Mr Ruthe.
Democracy is not dead for Paraparaumu ratepayers
He adds: “Hallelujah for Councillors Crompton, Halliday and Randall. They withstood the bullying of the Mayor, supported by the silent acquiescence of Councillors. ( McCann, former official of “White Ribbon” (anti-abuse group), and Councillors Sophie Handford and Holborow).
“Gurunathan declaimed Councillor Randall was a neo-colonialist (racist) and all councillors opposing were naysayers.
(A naysayer is a person with perpetual negativist views, even if those things are going well. )
What did Kapiti Island Eco business owner say?
Mr Ruthe adds that Mr Cooper went on to say they have highlighted their concerns as to the public backlash of this building being built, with the perception of ratepayers that it is solely benefitting two commercial businesses.
Mr Ruthe says: “Such is the genius of the non-representative democratic approach of our Mayor and the councillors who align with the bullyboy huddle.”