Mayor Jenny lashes out at critic as water meter petition total soars
Kapiti’s Mayor, Jenny Rowan, has lashed out at water-meter campaigner Jackie Elliott, saying Ms Elliott has facts wrong and accusing her of spreading ‘misplaced rumours.’
Meanwhile, Ms Elliott says the anti-meter petition has soared past 3,500 in the first month of campaigning.
‘Disastrous experience’ in Nelson
Ms Elliott says experience in Nelson, where meters were installed 12 years ago has proved disastrous to residents.
Among other points, Ms Elliott states:
‘In 1999 (in Nelson) it was announced that water meters would be introduced due to public demand. Which in the words of (resident) Rick Miller,”Surprised the hell out of the public, as no one had asked for them”. A quick, submission and consultation process was held to enable Council to introduce household and business metering, and after 90% of submissions were received against the proposal.
“After the introduction of water meters, Nelson lost one of its biggest employers, the Sealord factory closed off 12 hrs of its 24 hour Fish Processing Operation, and moved it to China. The result, the immediate redundancy of nearly half its 300 shift working, but mostly full time employees. The other fish factory Talleys refused to set up in Nelson, prefering Motueka, where their new plant is run on an artesian bore water supply and processing was reduced.
‘Water conservation has ceased’
“Water conservation has has ceased in Nelson since the introduction of water meters. In fact, walking around any Nelson City Council information centre recently, you would not find one brochure on water conservation. Under the Nelson City Council, residents are encouraged to use water.
“Leaks: You are not only responsible for leaks on your property, but also leaks in any right-of-way to your property”
Ms Elliott also says KCDC’s current CEO, Pat Dougherty, was formerly Deputy CEO. in Nelson, and was in charge of bringing in water meters — and ‘Nelson folk know exactly what we are in for.’
Mayor hits out at allegations
But the Kapiti Mayor has taken a strong line against Ms Elliott, particularly over the attack on Mr Dougherty.
Ms Rowan says: “I’m especially concerned , not just about the errors, but also the references to our CEO Pat Dougherty, who is not in a position to defend himself.”
Ms Rowan also says: “First of all, water meters were Council policy for a number of years. It should therefore come as no surprise that the issue is now back in front of us, as the rationale for meters has not changed.
“Significant water users in the district have been on water meters for years, including 782 commercial operators, such as Kapiti Cheese. This is common throughout New Zealand. I’m not sure why Sealord closed some of its operations in Nelson, but to imply that something like that could happen in Kapiti is scaremongering.
“Ms Elliott talks a lot about Nelson. Some of it is misplaced rumour, the rest has little or no relevance to us.
“We have decided in principle to introduce meters following an open and transparent consultation process last year. We made it clear we would set up an advisory group (CRAG) separate from Council to look at a charging regime. We have done this.
“The whole issue will be open for discussion during submissions and hearings on the Long Term Plan in April and May next year. By then residents will have access to all the information, including the charging regime.
“This process will allow for a free and frank discussion between residents and councillors. That seems a sensible path to follow – one based on good information, an informed debate, and a process that is open, fair and transparent.”