After all, who can have faith in the process when a robust two year public consultation can be hijacked at the last minute by planners, intense with intensification at any price, who can push through major changes affecting 100,000 people without consultation or right of reply. As the Ratepayers’ Alliance has said, this issue was always about natural justice and democracy not intensification.
There will a lasting doubt in the mind of the public about Council’s planning department. Anyone listening to Council planners who were, as Cllr Mike Lee pointed out, given far too much say at yesterday’s extraordinary meeting of the Governing Body, would have left the meeting with the feeling they were way too big for their boots. They were truculent, bossy and clearly thought their opinions were the only ones that mattered. It was equally clear was they were running their own agenda and couldn’t give a fig about the real life consequences of their actions for the people most affected by their plans.
Wrapped in a cloak of planning jargon and legalise they sought to frighten Councillors with dire warnings that they were acting illegally if they withdrew the out of scope changes. They told Councillors they risked not being party to any future Unitary Plan proceedings. They were ‘lawyered up’ to the max with legal opinions backing their stance.
On a night of around thirty speeches, from the public, lobby groups, local boards and Councillors, there were two that stood out. The first was Desley Simpson, Chair of the Orakei Local Board. It was Desley who first alerted the public to the secret maps prepared by planners. She did what local board chairs are supposed to, she got in touch with her ratepayer organisations, organised a public meeting and blew the planners nasty little secrets wide open. Then, last night, she delivered her ratepayers’ views in a robust and impassioned plea to Councillors to do the right thing and vote for democracy and due process. She will make an excellent Councillor for Orakei when the current incumbent, Cameron Brewer, vacates the position late this year.
The other was Cllr Denise Krum. Her comments were sharp and incisive. They concentrated on the issue at hand, democracy and natural justice, and dispelled some of the generation envy pushed by the Green lobby group Generation Zero. This youth lobby group had portrayed the issue as one of NIMBYism and housing affordability and purported to represent all youth. Not so, said Krum, and quoted texts from young people saying just the opposite.
In the end the vote was won by 13 votes to 8. The thirteen who understand that this was about democracy and natural justice were Councillors, Quax, Bewer, Krum, Wood, Stewart, Fletcher, Darby, Casey, Clow, Sir John Walker, Walker, Watson and Lee.
The eight who voted against democracy and natural justice were Brown, Cooper, Filipaino, Anae, Hulse, Cashmore, Penrose, and Webster. Brown is gone already but the rest MUST be voted out at this year’s elections because they simply do not understand the fundamental principles on which they were elected.