Otaki Trees Case

The 3 KCDC Musketeers fail in mission to save Otaki tree-fellers

By Alan Tristram

standensThree Kapiti Coast District Councillors who tried to get a special motion before the council meeting to save an elderly Otaki couple from prosecution have narrowly failed in their mission.

The couple, Diana and Peter Standen, will have to appear in court in Levin this week for felling and trimming native trees they believed were rotten and dangerous.

Under council rules, the three councillors trying to help the Standens — Crs Jackie Elliott, K Gurunathan and David Scott –needed a fourth signatory to get a special meeting.

But they were unable to get the support of the sitting Otaki councillor, Penny Gaylor, or any of the  remaining six councillors, or Mayor Ross Church.

Cr Elliott’s plan

Cr Elliott, who led the move to come to the aid of the Standens, says:

“I am very thankful for support of Crs Gurunathan and David Scott in signing, immediately.

She says all the other councillors were asked to do was to agree to call an extraordinary meeting,

She says: “I can not believe that given the severity of the situation, these other Councillors are so lacking in courage, they won’t even put their name to a request to meet.

“I have given KCDC staff and Councillors the only possible forum to show some common sense and back out of a very damaging situation.”

Cr Scott’s view

“This is one of a long line of council ‘over-the-top’ responses to minor misdemeanours. The council has already made expensive mistakes in taking individuals and groups like coastal ratepayers to court, says Cr Scott. 

“This decision though is very sad in that it is trying to criminalise an elderly couple who have spent their lives trying to improve native vegetation and beautifying the native bush lands. They have a natural right to improve their land and trim dead and dying trees etc.

“If the RMA says otherwise as the Minister has recently commented, the RMA needs looking at. The criticism of  KCDC by the Minister (Amy Adams) of the council’s action in commencing a court case by the senior council officer, should be looked at carefully by elected members to make sure delegated officials are not overstepping their boundaries. 

“To this end I and Crs Elliot and Gurunathan signed a request for council to discuss this issue under urgency this Tuesday when all councillors are already present at council.

“The local Otaki member and other councillors would not sign the request so the required four minimum was not achieved.”  

Invoking the law and following it to the letter has always been the easy way but surely there are
individual cases where compassion and understanding come before some law or regulation; hats
off to the three councillors for supporting people caught up in this legal thicket; surely there will
be a forgiving end to this, as if people didn’t have better and bigger things to be getting on with.

This is this just another travesty in a long line of botch ups that KCDC councillors and staff seem to perpetuate over the years. When can we ever hope to trust an elected council??? It seems that all the time it’s a complete and utter fiasco.
How is it possible for this community to get it so wrong and elect so many councillors who just sit on their chuffs and hand out ludicrous decisions.
It would appear that we only have three sane councillors amongst the rabble. Heaven help us when it comes to deciding the water meter charges!!!!!!!!!!!