Jeremy Smith reports all three Otaki-based councillors voted against a new district gambling policy approved only by the casting vote of mayor Gurunathan, who also lives in Otaki.
And the vote on the pokies went through despite the absence of three councillors at Thursday’s meeting.
Not on the agenda
The option councillors chose for the new gambling policy was not the option proposed for discussion on the agenda for the meeting.
In October KCDC voted for a new policy. During public consultations in January, they received a strong message from Otaki asking for a restriction on the number of pokies in the town.
The council’s own figures show Otaki has 61 machines , well above the 42 cap set back in 2011 when the previous gambling policy was approved.
Smallest population, most Pokie venues
In addition Otaki which has the smallest population of the four KCDC wards, has four actual venues. By comparison Waikanae has a single gambling
venue, Paekakariki-Raumati has two and Paraparaumu, the ward with the largest population has five venues.
When it came to choosing on a new policy the councillors had four options. They ranged from the status quo through to no new pokie machines or new venues at all or no relocations of existing machines from one place to another.
The formal option –Option C- before the councillors was to bring in a tougher relocation policy and a lower cap i.e. fewer pokie machines.
Instead they deadlocked on a last-minute motion from Cr Mark Benton to change only the relocation policy, on the basis this would still meet the special problems facing Otaki. The Otaki ward councillor James Cootes had previously asked for more time. At that point the mayor used his casting vote the support Benton’s motion.
Cootes, and the two Otaki-based councillors Angela Buswell and Jackie Elliott had all voted against.
Three councillors- Janet Holborow, John Howson and David Scott were on leave.
Otaki community board chair Christine Papps said the board members would have preferred a stronger policy, on the bases that fewer pokies would be better for Otaki.
Councillor Jackie Elliott said she thought the vote was an abuse of the legislative process.