Protesters Hit KCDC

Over 7,500 signatures on anti-meter petition handed to Mayor

 By Alan Tristram

Water meter protesters have taken what is said to be Kapiti’s biggest  petition – with 7662 signatures — to a packed meeting of the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC).

More than 20 members and supporters of ‘Ask Us First’ gathered outside the KCDC building in Rimu Road, Paraparaumu, with placards and banners beforehand.

They were given lots of toots of support from passing drivers – and pedestrians were repeatedly told ‘No Water Meters’ in a recording broadcast from a portable radio by local activist Chris Glover.

Inside there was standing room only when the petition organiser, Jackie Elliott, handed over the petition.

Tense atmosphere

In  a tense and sometimes angry atmosphere, several other speakers backed up Ms Elliott with impassioned pleas to the Council to follow the Petition’s aim and institute a referendum on water meters.

Mayor Jenny Rowan was clearly rattled at times by some of the protesters. She asked two or three to withdraw or stop personal allegations about staff.

But there were frequent cheers and interjections from the large group of petition supporters who surrounded the councillors and mayor on two sides.

And at one point she told protesters interrupting Cr Gurunathan (who was voicing a speech-cum-question) to “Just sit and listen!”

Most of the councillors sat mute and expressionless, but clearly not overjoyed by the petitioners’ cause.

Three – Crs Booth, Gurunathan and Lester – asked questions.

Only Cr Gurunathan (‘Guru’) gave any support. He said he would back a referendum if it included other options, and costings, as well as the question on meters.

Heavyweight support

One of the big surprises of the day,was the heavyweight support the petitioners received from well-known figures.

The Greens’ Otaki candidate, Michael Gilchrist, spoke up on behalf of the group, saying the Green Party wanted businesses and farms to have meters, but wasn’t arguing for the same treatment for households.

The Kapiti Regional Councillor,

Grey Power spokeswoman Betty van Gaalen (who is also a member of the Elders’ Council) presented a damning indictment of Council policy, saying:

“The community believes the process adopted is undemocratic, even if it is legal.”

Referendum a ‘better process’

“In May,” she reminded councillors, “In May, Grey Power (Kapiti) said a referendum would have been a better process.

“Since then, the publicity regarding the water supply and meters , until last week, was poor.

“It seemed to be written by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats.”

Online petition will continue

In another move, protesters told the Independent the petition gathering isn’t over – an online petition will continue to gather signatures through 2011, ‘until the Mayor decides a referendum is needed.’

 

To me it is obvious that this was a set up from the beginning. Set up by the corporates through their media employees to make themselves as unpopular as possible with the public and in so doing not only taking the heat off John Key and also improving his ratings. We all know how we feel about aggressive media tactics. As I said cleverly set up to denigrate the press and improve John Key’s image!