Damning Report on KCDC means Library users have to suffer

Community advocate Salima Padamsey says a damning official report on the KCDC shows its mismanagement has caused the problems which are now punishing Library readers.

The former Waikanae Library, closed late last year after the discovery of toxic mould in the building and the book stocks

She says in June 2019, Council received a report, commissioned from Morrison Low, an Australian Management consulting firm, regarding the need to close the Waikanae Library.  

The report found:

  • Systemic and organisational flaws in reporting, and record keeping. 
  • A dysfunctional culture within Council, which made decisions without first seeking the necessary information on which to base those decisions. 
  • The Council had all the information required to act earlier, but chose not to. 

( as a result of the huge extra costs, the Council has decided to slash the Libraries’ book budget by nearly half to help pay for the damage.)

‘The report’s methodology fails to hold anyone to account. Instead of identifying individuals with direct line management, even by job description, the report refers to the Senior Leadership Team – a general group of managers,’ says Ms Padamsey.

‘Senior local government management is a very tight-knit shop.  Those who fail in one local authority normally move on to another, simply because they are never held accountable – never.
Can ratepayers have confidence?

Can ratepayers have confidence in Council management and its operations given such a debacle was allowed to occur, resulting in a rebuild cost of approximately $2 million. 

It only begs the question what the planned organisational review will reveal. We only now have a revealing glimpse into why KCDC is the second most indebted Council in NZ.
The report also explains that library staff, exposed daily to the toxins, gained an impression that “there was no money…” and that, staff did not analyse, collate or report it to create a “full picture of the true cost” to remedy the leaky building environment.

Toxic stachybotrys mould similar to that found in the Waikanae Library

This seems an unjust attempt to sheet blame onto the affected staff, as opposed to the Council’s corporate manager(s) of the property portfolio.

For starters, councils always have money – lots of it.  It is simply a matter of choosing where to spend it, in other words, prioritising. 

The Council’s management clearly did not prioritise the health and safety of its Waikanae library staff – that is a plain and simple fact, given what has now come to light.   
Questions that need answers

Kapit Coast District Council HQ in Paraparaumu

+ How many make-overs has Mahara Place itself had in the decade since these building issues were first reported? 

+ How many land acquisitions has the council made in this past decade?

+ How did the council find the extra money to complete the Aquatic Centre when Mainzeal went bust? 

This list of expenditure on ‘other nice-to-have things’ over the past decade is truly vast. 

Poor record-keeping

A final and important point the report makes is that Council has a significant loss of institutional knowledge due to high staff turn-over, and  very poor record keeping. KCDC was aware that the Office of the Ombudsman had concerns regarding their ability to maintain records in line with the Public Records Act.  4 years later, it still remains an issue.  

As constituents of the district, that pay 28 million dollars a year in staff salaries, we deserve better.

The tragedy will be if Councillors accept this report without demanding answers and accountability of the Senior Leadership Team.  It is election year, we should keep our eyes peeled to see who is working for us to ensure that the costs that have been incurred from this fiasco, will not happen again. 

When SHTF “identifying individuals with direct line management & making them accountable is the wet dream of thousands in NZ affected by the fact they ‘simply are never held accountable – never’

Oh dear it seems our beloved council is now officially rather inept. Cause a problem, blame someone else lower down the pole and then slash funding on books that have never been properly funded in the first place. The general public are always rather sleepy and will not usually take much notice of things like this because they happen so often. The concept of taking responsibility for your actions has never really been popular with humans and this council seems to be holding up this fine tradition. Will this lead to Councillors losing their places in two months time? We will have to wait to find out but personally I hope so as they all voted and approved this. They seem to have gone very quiet about though haven’t they…

As a rate payer it concerns me that we know so little about the councillors or the aspiring councillors. For the incumbents it would be great to see some sort of profile on what happened during the last term and what they did, how many times they attended meetings and any achievements or issues pertaining to them. It does not seem enough to only know them by the profile they put out. This could be a great subject for an independent journalist.

Excellent outline and assessment of the situation. Candidates standing for Council and community Boards should be aware that ratepayers not only expect their Council representatives to provide real governance but also courage from elected community board members to be a voice for their community. A Community Board that can sleep as soundly as old Rip van Winkle may as well not exist.


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