Kapiti Councillors Row

Democracy Dispute Erupts

Among KCDC Councillors

March 24,2010
By Alan Tristram

Angry words are being hurled by Deputy Mayor Ann Chapman as a dispute over local democracy heats up – and divides the KCDC evenly down the middle.

Five of the 10 councillors – Diane Ammundsen, Peter Ellis, Tony Jack, Anne Molineux and David Scott —  recently appealed to the Local Government Commission for a cut in the number of Community Boards from four to two.

Speaking for the Group, Councillor Molineux says the move will save ratepayers money and ensure better decisions are made.

But Deputy-Mayor Ann Chapman has laid into Cr Molineux and her colleagues.

She accuses Councillor Molineux of showing ‘a complete lack of understanding of the democratic process in pursuing her campaign against democratic decisions of the Council.”

“The submission she and four other councillors made is incomprehensible,” she says.

“Councillor Molineux and her cohorts are saying they are above the convention of collective responsibility in abiding by a democratically achieved decision.

“These councillors (with collectively over 40 years’ experience) have decided that they can abuse the process of decision-making,” says the deputy mayor.

“They were part of the draft decision, they heard submitters and then they made a final decision.”

She adds:”Then they decided to appeal their own decision. Judge, jury and appellant!

“That is against all the principles of decision-making, legal precedence and justice.”

Personal Sideswipe

And in a personal sideswipe aginst her fellow councillors, Cr Chapman says “one is a lawyer and two are trained commissioners whose training should tell them that this action is a direct conflict of interest.”

Zeroing in on Anne Molineux, the deputy mayor adds that her actions “show her as not only being anti-democratic but also misguided.”

Cr Molineux’s reasoning

In a statement for KIN, Cr Molineux explains the five rebel councillors’ actions:

“Kapiti ratepayers are currently paying for the cost of 27 elected members.,” she says.

“The Council seeks to increase that number to 29, by adding another two members to the Paraparaumu-Raumati Community Board. We are of the view that ‘less is better’ for Kapiti.”

“If Upper Hutt, with a similar population to Kapiti, can get by with 11 elected members, we certainly don’t need 27. If successful, our proposal would reduce the number of elected members to 19.”

The Councillors’ proposal is to have all Councillors elected from across the district, and to have only two community boards — Otaki and Paekakariki — so that smaller communities who are less likely to elect councillors are guaranteed representation.

“Need to focus on important issues”

“As Kapiti progresses, the Council needs to focus on important issues such as water at a district-wide level, rather than getting tied up in local, parochial issues.

“With proposals afoot to create a Wellington Super City, it is even more important to show that we can govern strategically without being dominated by small interest groups,” she said.

Hearing in Kapiti  on March 31

The Local Government Commission will consider all appeals in a public hearing in the Council chambers at 2pm on 31 March 2010.