Kāpiti Council Failing To Back Its Community Boards – Shelly Warwick

Ōtaki Community Board member Shelly Warwick says the KCDC is failing to help community boards fulfil their democratic duties.

She says: ‘Well in an incredible backflip worthy of Olympic gold, our council and councillors’, after coming up with a much-opposed plan to get rid of all the district Community boards, are now putting a new plan forward to retain them, as well as ADD one in Raumati.  So why the change of heart?

After spending $85K on the Empathy report to inform the Representation review, which now seems a bit like a monumental waste of money and a very expensive way to interview 168 people, they are, because of overwhelming public pressure, going to support the Community Boards, an essential  grassroots layer of democracy in Kapiti.

‘I am a member of the Ōtaki Community Board, now in my second term, and I joined because I wanted to be a conduit between my community and council, after being frustrated at not being able to progress community road safety issues on which I campaigned for many years.

  Support lacking

‘However, having Community boards and supporting them adequately are two different things.

‘Currently community boards are assigned a group manager and their PA/secretary to attend meetings and assist the boards with any matters. 

KCDC HQ — from where the help should come

The problem is that all of KCDC’s group managers and their PA’s already have more than full-time jobs, and I, like many board members in Kapiti, find it very difficult to get answers to questions we are asking on behalf of our communities. 

‘This is simply because those allocated to help us are too busy.  There is no budget to have our own secretariat, but in the original proposal council were proposing to have secretariat for all 10 councilors.  Its like we are a “nice to have nuisance” but one not deserving of investment and respect.

Waiting for up to a year for answers

‘At the last Otaki Community Board meeting (on 2nd Nov), I had a list of 11 questions, some of which I have been waiting on answers for up to a year. 

‘In no way do I blame our group manager or their secretary, but they simply don’t have time. 

‘Since that meeting I have put two of my unanswered questions in as LGOIMAs or Requests for information.  It is a sign that something is not working when even elected members cannot get timely answers to our questions.

‘It is important for us to get information for our community and also to be well informed so we can make plans for our submissions to the annual plan on behalf of our communities. 

Waikanae is in the same boat 

My “frustration” has been reported on, but unfortunately, I am not alone.  In a recent Letter of Intention to Mayor Guru, from the Waikanae Community Board Chair James Westbury, there were, amongst other requests, two that I feel ring true for me as well

  1. “Full and timely disclosure of information relating to matters which may affect Waikanae, and
  2. To be proactively consulted on all matters which may relate to the Waikanae Community including those which only affect their ward”

Not really unreasonable requests. 

I too am frustrated with the lack of consultation with us as board members on what is going on in our community. 

‘One example is the recent attempt to sell a KCDC piece of land in Otaki.  I have been asking since last September for a list of land owned in our electorate, it should not be hard to find that information, but I have not received it. 

‘Before this land was put up for sale, there was no discussion regarding the sale with the Otaki Community Board.  If we know what land is available, we could  make  plans around the land for further assets for our town? 

‘Good information means good plans can be made; it also helps us feed back to the community which is in essence what we are there to do.

‘Its great that the council have reconsidered, but don’t make Community Boards the White Elephant that is there to appease the public.  Support us to do a great job.

‘This will mean less work for council staff who don’t have the time to support us because of their already overflowing portfolios.’

(Shelly Warwick, Ōtaki Community Board)

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