Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

I’m Seeking Re-election to the Waimakariri Mayoralty

1 April 2013

In a speech to the Waimakariri Combined Probus Club, I have announced my intention to seek re-election to the Waimakariri Mayoralty.

You should be able to find the media statement that I have subsequently issued amongst the pages to the right with the title Re-Election Sought – Media Statement 1 April 2013 – or by clicking on the link here.

The speech is also there: Re-Election Sought – Speech to Waimakariri Combined Probus Club 28 March 2013 – or by clicking the link too!

Pegasus: My Position

3 October 2010

I was opposed to the Pegasus proposal when it was first mooted, an opposition that was well publicised at the time.  I submitted against it at the hearing.

Pegasus is now a fact, however.  People are moving in and they are now Waimakariri residents.  The owners of properties there are Waimakariri ratepayers.

It is in the interests of the District for the Pegasus development to succeed.  Failure would bring about a significant social cost to the wider community.

The development of the relationship between Pegasus, Woodend and Waikuku is going to be something that the three communities and the wider District are going to be working on for a number of years.

Rural Subdivision: My Position

3 October 2010

The spread of 10-acre (4ha) blocks across the Waimakariri landscape concerns a lot of people, including me.

One needs to remember, however, that the rural economy outside of dairying remains very difficult.  For many farmers, subdivision has become about the only way they can make something out of their land.  We also need to acknowledge that there has been, at least until recently, market demand for these “lifestyle” blocks.

A further defence is that some of these small blocks are actually very productive.

However, their spread has driven up the cost of neighbouring farmland and has swallowed up much of the District’s productive capacity.

Before 4ha became the minimum standard for rural lots in the District Plan, the Resource Management Act made it very difficult to resist subdivision anyway.  The subdivisions usually ended up being granted but with the applicants being put to the extra cost of seeking resource consents.  Before the RMA, subdivision also still happened, but with lawyers and consultants making money out of proving”economic use” of the proposed lots.

I belive that we can help limit the spread of 4ha blocks by making more provision for rural-residential developments where the average size of lots is 0.5 or 1 hectare.  Examples already exist in places like Fernside. Hopefully, this will soak up some of the demand.

Going back to past subdivision standards will be very difficult because once such a move is signalled, a huge amount of hurried subdivision is likely to result.

Local Government Reform in Canterbury: My Position

3 October 2010

Having already been on the Local Government scene for six years when the 1989 restructuring took place, I know how difficult the process can be.  The successive amalgamations of Rangiora Borough and Rangiora District, then the new District with Eyre County, and then that new Rangiora District with Kaiapoi Borough, Oxford County and part of Hurunui County to form Waimakariri were all done differently.  Even in the space of three years, history didn’t repeat itself!

The replacement of the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) with commissioners suggests that Canterbury is in for another shake-up.  I doubt that ECan will return in its former guise.  I am prepared to work constructively with the Government, the commissioners and neighbouring councils to review the future functions of territorial councils like Waimakariri.  It could well be that district councils will take on some of ECan’s current functions.

We need to make sure, however, that this works to the advantage of ratepayers and residents.

I do not believe that anything would be gained by amalgamations unless there was widespread public support – nor do I think that such moves are likely from the Government.

“Affordable” Rates

1 September 2010

Are there any such thing? 

What you find affordable, I might not.  If someone thought rates were unaffordable three years ago, they won’t be finding them affordable now.

Perhaps we could ask those ratepayers in part of Mandeville whose rates have just gone up, in this year alone, by more than 11%.  And no, they are not getting a new water supply – or anything else new.

One Waimakariri District: More on My Position

31 August 2010

The most disunifying action of the Waimakariri District Council since its formation in 1989 has to be the imposition of the 5km rating zone around the Dudley Aquatic Centre.

It only lasted for a year, but it meant that people outside that zone had less reason to contribute to the fundraising.  Local people were being taxed for a facility available to the whole District.

District facilities must be funded District-wide.

One Waimakariri District: My Position

29 August 2010

Ever since I was elected to the Waimakariri District Council in  its first elections, in 1989, I have regarded myself as a Waimakariri councillor not a Rangiora one (I had six years off in 2001-07).

As far as I am concerned, wards are a means of achieving a geographical spread of councillors.  Once elected, however, we are sworn in as Waimakariri councillors and we have to make decisions for the whole District.

One of the challenges has always been to be seen to be “doing” things for the entire District.  It is common for people to say that all the money gets spent in one part of the District rather than others. 

This is exacerbated by the fact that a large part of the District sees Rangiora as its service centre – shopping, professional services, secondary schooling, etc.  A consequence of this is that there is often a demand for improved facilities in Rangiora.

My own view is that there are some facilities that should be available in various parts of the District.  As Woodend and Pegasus grow towards something like their projected combined population of about 10,000, there should be a library facility somewhere there.  We should be looking into the possibility of adding a leisure pool to the Kaiapoi Aquatic Centre,  just as Dudley Park has. 

We can also be looking at the complementarity of facilities, so that what is found in one part of the District can be complemented by what is found in another part.  You wouldn’t, for instance, want to replicate the Rangiora Town Hall in Kaiapoi, but a different, more flexible, kind of performance venue could be considered.

None of this has to happen this year or the next.  But we should be looking forward to the kind of facilities that a District with a population of 60,000+ (currently 46,000) will need.

The important things is that when we put a facility into one part of the District, it needs to be seen as being there for the whole District.

This District Deserves Better

13 August 2010

A nasty and crude leaflet attacking a Council candidate has been circulating in Woodend.

Needless-to-say, the leaflet expresses nothing positive in support of anyone. And of course it is anonymous – these sorts of things always are because the people who distribute them are afraid to stand up in public and be counted.

The Waimakariri District deserves better than this.

What Mayoral Race?

22 June 2010

It’s still only me and Peter Wakeman in Waimakariri.

Jo Kane is rumoured to be announcing her candidacy in a few days and the Mayor still hasn’t said if he has made up his mind.  Perhaps it’s a case of “you go first”, “no, you”, “no you”.  Perhaps Jo will to do it today as she emerges from her annual shortest-day swim.

Kirstyn Barnett Announces her Candidacy for the Woodend-Ashley Ward

28 April 2010

Prominent Woodend community leader, Kirstyn Barnett, has anounced her candidacy for the Woodend-Ashley Ward at this year’s Waimakariri District Council elections.

She is well-known for her role in the Woodend Action Group, which has now merged with the Woodend Residents’ Association to form the Woodend Community Association.

She was the instigator of the two large murals recently painted on two walls near the Community Centre and of the walking bus project to take children safely to the Woodend School.

She has been an exemplary voice for Woodend and shown with it a capacity for taking action.

The full text of her announcement can be read in the pages to the right of your screen under the heading Kirstyn Barnett Announcement of Candidacy .

Categorical Assurance!

11 April 2010

To those readers of Saturday’s Press:  I can categorically assure you that I have no interest whatsoever in the Christchurch mayoralty!

Mayoral Candidacy Announced

7 April 2010

    Media Statement Made Today


      [see also Biography as at April 2010 under About David Ayers in the list of pages to the right of your screen.]


 Long-serving Waimakariri Councillor, David Ayers, has announced that he is standing for the Waimakariri mayoralty in the elections that will be held in September and October this year. 

“The District is ready for positive leadership that acknowledges the District’s strengths and that will get the District back on the path of sustainable development,“  he said. 

“We need leadership that unites the District and doesn’t divide one community from another or urban residents from their rural neighbours.  While acknowledging that local communities have their own proud histories and may have particular interests, we also need to recognise that District facilities available to all will be financed from across the District,” said David Ayers. 

“The significant developments that have started in this current term of the Council, such as new water schemes for Oxford and Rangiora, and the Dudley Park Aquatic centre, were all initiated in the previous term.  The current leadership came into office determined to delay them and was only forced to back-track under pressure of public opinion.  We are sorely in need of forward-looking leadership,” he said. 

“I believe strongly in this District.  Our two largest towns have a long history of integration with the rural community and we now have a great, if challenging, mix of growing towns and townships, large farms and small holdings, beach settlements and rural-residential communities.  We live alongside internationally-significant braided rivers and wonderful beaches and hill country.  Waimakariri is a District of opportunity and this is why so many are coming to live here. 

“We can work together to make this an even better place to live, do business and farm.” 

Cr Ayers is descended from early Woodend settlers. He is the longest serving councillor in the Waimakariri District, having been first elected to the Rangiora Borough Council in 1983.  He stood down under pressure of work in 2001 and then chaired the Rangiora Ward Advisory Board for six years before being re-elected to the Council in 2007. 

He was Deputy Mayor between 1995 and 2001 and chaired Rangiora and Waimakariri District finance and audit committees for twelve years. 

A former Deputy Principal of Rangiora High School, David Ayers is involved in a wide range of community groups including Rotary, Community Watch, the Methodist Church, Ashley Rivercare, North Canterbury Radio Trust and the Waimakariri Arts Council.  He and his wife, Marilyn, also do duty in the local museum and he is an Alternate Civil Defence Controller for the District.  An interest in the District’s history is reflected in his involvement with the restoration group for the Ashley Community Church and with the Rangiora Landmarks group, which puts commemorative plaques on historic buildings. 

For the past three years he has been running an internet blog at that many locals have accessed for information. 

“I see my Council involvement and my Mayoral candidacy as an extension of this service to the community,” concluded David Ayers.

The Dudley Pool – a bit of recent history

31 March 2010

You might remember …

ECan, Commissioners and Water

31 March 2010

It’s no surprise, but the Government has decided to replace the Canterbury Regional Councillors with commissioners.  The necessary legislation has already gone through Parliament, under urgency.

It remains to be seen what this means in practice for the huge amount of under-the-radar work ECan actually does – like the meeting of the Ashley-Sefton Rating District Committee meeting that I attended – held recently in a Sefton farmer’s driveway!  Cr Ross Little was there – would a commissioner have come? 

A lot of locals are excited about the idea of a proposed Ashley River-Rakahuri Regional Park, modelled on that under development in the Waimakariri River.  It will require public consultation.  We would have expected ECan councillors to be involved in that.  I hope we find a commissioner who is interested.

Likewise, I’ve heard that some people in Oxford would like a bus service – not, despite appearances, an easy matter, given the way District Council rates are going up in Oxford this year.  More consultation – but carried out by whom?

All Councils, including ECan, make representations to the government from time-to-time on behalf of their ratepayers and constituents.  Who will be the commisioners’ constituents?

The above are only a sample.

I accept fully that water is the Number One issue for Canterbury as a region, but the government’s move leaves a lot of unanswered questions.  We can only wait.

ECan: Ministers Meet the Waimakariri Council

17 March 2010

Environment Minister Nick Smith (raised in Waimakariri!) is doing the rounds of the Canterbury Councils and this morning he came to Waimakariri, joined by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide (also raised here) and locally-based Labour and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.

They have come to hear the Canterbury Councils’  views (as distinct from the Mayors’) on Environment Canterbury.  There was an exchange of views on ECan’s performance over a long period of time and the short-term measures that could be taken.  We also discussed the long-term: how this process could lead to a deeper reassessment of the Local Government structure in Canterbury.  Hopefully, if this takes place, it will involve all of Canterbury’s people. 

Nick Smith made it clear that where they talk about a separate water authority (my words), they are not just talking about the allocation of water.  They are talking about everything to do with water: flood protection, the river environments, water quality, the sharing of the resource, etc.  This is actually a significant part of ECan’s current work.

We need to remember that ECan does a lot of other stuff too: air quality, urban passenger transport regulation, coast care, civil defence, etc etc – quite a long list.

Personal Abuse and Local Politics

13 March 2010

 The March issue of the Woodpecker, an informative little bulletin that circulates in the Woodend area, carries a cover story about Woodend School’s new walking bus programme.  Amongst those instrumental in getting it going is Kirstyn Barnett of the Woodend Action Group (  ).

Coincidentally, the letter to the right appeared this week in the Northern Outlook  of Wednesday 10 March.   Kirstyn Barnett has been an excellent advocate for the Woodend community and a has record for getting things done – the sort of person who is eminently qualified to sit on the Woodend-Ashley Advisory Board.

The letter itself is an example of what we can do without in the Waimakariri community.  In my view,  personal abuse has no place in public discourse. As they say, play the ball, not the man (or, in this case, the woman).

Rangiora Ward Advisory Board: 3 New Members Appointed

5 March 2010

As signalled in aprevious post, the Rangiora Ward Advisory Board asked the Council to appoint three new members, even although there were only two vacancies.  This the Council has now done;

They are Jim Gerard, Lynne Winsloe and Greg Miller.

Remember that at this year’s local body elections, voters in the Woodend-Ashley and Rangiora Wards will be voting for new Community Boards that will replace the Ward Advisory Boards.

ECan and the Local Councils

1 March 2010

The recently released report on ECan says:

Territorial authorities (TA’s) within the Canterbury Region unquestionably believe that Environment Canterbury has failed to effectively and efficiently manage freshwater. TA’s view this as institutional failure.

I don’t know how the report can say this.  I have never been asked for my views on this and nor, to my knowedge, has the rest of the Waimakariri District Council.

I wonder how many of the mayors who have spoken behind closed doors on these matters can say they are speaking for their councils.

Last Saturday’s Press said that some of the mayors may be looking beyond a Regional Council and turning the District and City councils into unitary authorities (combining district and regional functions).

I think you, the people, should be given some say on this.

Draft Annual Plan Open for Submission

27 February 2010

The Council’s Draft Annual Plan is open for submissions.  Copies can be obtained from service centres and libraries – and can be found on line at Submissions close on 26 March.

The Annual Plan outlines the Council’s intentions for the coming July-to-June year: what it wants to spend and how it intends to raise the money to pay for it.

In the news media, it has been suggested that if you want more money spent on something you should also indicate where the Council should spend less to compensate.

Don’t believe a word of it!

It’s our job as councillors to work out how to do that, if we need to – not yours.

The Pool is About to Happen!

24 February 2010

It has been a struggle, but the Waimakariri District is about to get its new Dudley Park Pool.

Several years of to-ing and fro-ing culminated in a decision in the previous Council term to build a new one.

Council elections in 2007 brought a majority of councillors who initially decided to re-open the old pool and delay building the new one.  Councillors Robbie Brine, Kevin Felstead and Dan Gordon – and I – were the minority who wanted to get going on it.

Cold facts and the weight of public opinion changed the Council’s mind.  In the end, all but one voted to get on with the job.  The pity was that this had delayed the start of fund-raising and by then the recession had started to bite.

Nevertheless, a Pool Committee team led by Joan Ward and with Jim Gerard leading the major fundraising and Nikki Luisetti the community fundraising, has done a magnificent job.

Still – we now have a pool and early next month we can all swim in it!

If you want to see a recent history, click on the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre file under categories to the right of your screen.

The Waimakariri Mayoral Race Gets Under Way – Sort Of

7 February 2010

In the New Year, Peter Wakeman announced that he was standing for both the Waimakariri and Christchurch mayoralties.  (He stood unsuccessfully for the Waimakariri mayoralty at the last election.) This was a somewhat early entry into the race, and I have to wonder if Peter considers himself to be a really serious contender.  In my observation (and I’ve done plenty of observing), the Waimakariri mayor’s job needs to be treated as a full-time position – and Christchurch would be even more demanding.

How anyone could be two mayors at once and do the jobs properly beats me.

A lot of people have asked me if I would stand or am standing for the Waimakariri mayoralty.  My answer is, Peter Wakeman notwithstanding,  that  it’s a bit early to make official announcements.

Alfred Street Remains Closed – Council Decision

7 August 2009

This week, the Waimakariri District Council decided to keep Alfred Street closed.  They decided:

Lets the closure of Alfred Street stand in the meantime and develop a long term plan for Rangiora and from that decide the future form and function of Alfred Street.

Requests staff to bring back to Council a wider strategy report on the Rangiora Town Centre before any enhancement takes place in Alfred Street.

There are a number of problems with this approach.

  1. Those councillors who voted for this ignored a petition of about 4000 people.
  2. They passed up the opportunity to follow the same legal process to reopen the street that was taken to pedestrianise that portion of Alfred Street.
  3. The “long-term plan” consultation process will be muddied by strong community feelings over Alfred Street – in other words, Alfred Street will be a diversion from more important matters (click on Rangiora’s Heart: What Needs to Happen?  in the page list on the right of your screen).
  4. They have implicitly told the people of this District that in developing a long-term plan for central Rangiora, they won’t necessarily listen to those people.
  5. They are going to do nothing until the plan is complete.  This will take at least a year and in my view is unlikely to be complete before the next local body elections in October 2010.  In the meantime, we can all look at those yellow bollards.

To me, it was better to get this issue out of the way by going back to the way Alfred Street was.  That is why I tried to persaude the Council to reopen the street.

I strongly believe that we need a long hard look at Central Rangiora – its structure, the appearance, the parking, the traffic, etc. because a strong retail centre is vital to Rangiora as a town.  See the following blog post.

But this week’s decision has made progress towards that harder.

Why Has ECan Given Kaiapoi an Air Quality Reprieve, but Not Rangiora?

15 July 2009

Kaiapoi and Ashburton have been given an extra year by ECan to meet national air quality standards – but not Rangiora yet.

Rangiora hasn’t had its air standards promulgated yet, because, apparently, someone has appealed against them.

However, with zero pollution exceedences so far this year, we have to wonder what is going on in Rangiora.  Perhaps the town has switched to heat pumps big time.  Or maybe, it’s just good luck with the weather.  We can’t expect Rangiora to go though the winter without having some nights with high pollution levels!

Still No Progress on Alfred Street

8 July 2009

Those who want Alfred Street, Rangiora, re-opened were stymied again yesterday at a council meeting when a motion was put that referred to Local Government Act of 1974 – but with the movers not supplying any information on the section they were referring to, Councillors had little choice to let the matter lie on the table pending legal advice.

The Council staff had offered two alternatives – both quite simple.  Leave it closed or reopen it by going through the same procedure to reopen as was used to close it.  The latter mechanism would have kept faith with those who had taken part in the legal process a couple of years ago.

Does the Auckland Situation have any Relevence to Canterbury / Christchurch / Waimakariri?

15 June 2009

The Government (the Labour-led Government, remember?) decided to do something about Auckland because years of squabbling amongst the four cities (Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere) and the Regional Council had resulted in paralysis.  That, for instance,  is why the whole country is now paying fogesr their failure to plan properly for transport.

Now, as we all know, they are looking at a super-city that is also bringing in three adjacent Districts – Rodney in the north and Franklin and Papakura to the south.

Is this situation paralleled in Canterbury?

The Auckland Regional Council covers only the above cities and districts.  In a sense, the Government (now National-led!) is abolishing the cities and districts and beefing up the regional council.

The Canterbury Regional Council (Environment Canterbury) stretches well beyond Christchurch, however.  It covers the whole area east of the Main Divide from north of Kaikoura to south of the Waitaki River and is the biggest Region in the country by area.  It is quite a different beast to its Auckland equivalent.

And what about Christchurch?  Well, it already has one council, covering urban Christchurch, some of its rural fringe and all of Banks Peninsula.

And do we squabble?  Well, it is no secret that some councils like to have a go at ECan sometimes, but I would have to say, from a Waimakariri councillor’s perspective, that the cooperation far out weighs the irritation.  One good example is the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy, which is the product of cooperation between ECan, Christchurch City, Waimakariri, Selwyn and the NZ Transport Agency.

So is change in the wind for Canterbury’s local government structure?  Who knows?  My view is that the Government has got its hands full dealing with Auckland in the immediate future, so we might be waiting some time.

5km Rating Zone Goes Through

12 June 2009

The Council yesterday confirmed its 10 Year Plan and the rates for the coming year, over the votes of Robbie Brine and me.

So sorry – even if you  live inside the 5km and are further away from Dudley Park than some people who are outside it, you are going to be rated more then others in the District.

And if you will never go for a swim and are inside the 5km radius, but are nevertheles prepared to pay your fair share for the new Aquatic Centre, you are going to be rated more than your fair share.

This is the final word – until next year’s Annual Plan, or until after the next election.

What Is Rodney On About?

10 June 2009

When I was a teacher, we sometimes referred to certain Ministers of Education as Ministers against Education.  I’m beginning to think something similar about the Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide.  At least John Key has kept him outside cabinet.

Rodney wants to push a law through that confines local councils to the “basics”.  These seem to be restricted to roads, footpaths, public transport, water supply, sewerage, stormwater & flood protection, refuse collection and regulation of nuisances.

What? No libraries, parks, sports grounds, swimming pools, town centre development?  

What’s Happening in NW Rangiora?

26 May 2009

The Urban Development Strategy has identified western Rangiora, loosely as far as Lehmans Road, as a growth area over the next 30 years.  The strategy is a joint project of the Waimakariri, Christchurch and Selwyn Councils, ECan and the NZ Transport Agency (formerly Transit NZ).  Part of the UDS is in the process of being given legal status through ECan’s Change 1 to their Regional Policy Statement.

The Waimakariri District Council has decided that the best way to plan for residential growth in west Rangiora is to do it through private plan changes.  This means that landowners and/or developers initiate the necessary chnages to the Waimakariri District Plan.

To give those landowners and developers some guidance, the Council has been consulting with the community on the drawing up of structure plans.  These will indicate the general direction of main roads, sewer lines, etc.  This process is not complete.

In the meantime, a group of developers has initiated a private plan change to turn the northern-most part of this area into a residential zone and a smaller section beyond into “rural residential”.

One area of controversy has been Brick Kiln Lane, which, while zoned rural, has a series of large residential sections.  It includes an historic cottage and the remains of the last brick kiln to survive in the area. The lane itself is not a Council road.  The residents have been insistent that their lane should retain its ambience – which is probably quite achievable provided the lane does not become a through-road.

Funding for Performance Venue(s) Stays In

18 May 2009

The $5m (including $1m public fundraising) for a performance venue or venues has stayed in the Council’s 10-Year Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) for 2013-14.

An additional amount of $50,000 for investigative work in the coming year has been substanially reduced because it was felt by a majority of councillors (and by many submitters) that much of this work has already been done in prevuous investigations.

Rangiora Town Hall

There is a strong expectation within the community that a significant amount needs to be spent on upgrading and enhancing the Rangiora Town Hall.  One of two Town Halls in the District (the other is Oxford’s – see Corners of Waimakariri in the Categories to the right), there is a lot of affection for the old lady and it is without doubt the most important performance venue that we currently have.

She is worth fighting for!

The 5km Rating Circle Stays In

15 May 2009

Despite strong public opposition, the new Dudley Park Pool will have a 5km as-the-crow-flies rating circle placed around it.  Within the circle, all households will pay a fixed charge to make up any shortfall in the $3m target the Council has set the fundraising groups.

It should be noted that the target came from the Council, not the fundraisers.

Some of the issues around this rating area can be found by clicking the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre file at the right of this page.

Some councillors fought very hard – it took most of a morning to get it passed and in the end it passed by 6 votes to 5.  Those who voted for the rating area were Mayor Ron Keating and Councillors Sandra Stewart, Elaine Cole, Peter Farrant, Neville Atkinson and Roger Blair.  Those who voted against it were Councillors Robbie Brine, Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead, Neil Cruickshank and me.

It was noteworthy that prior to this decision, all three of the Council’s Ward Advisory Boards (Rangiora, Oxford-Eyre and Woodend-Ashley) voted in favour of a Districy-wide rate.  Unfortunately, enough councillors took more notice of the Kaiapoi Community Board.

Later, I attempted to get a discounted entry to the Aquatic Centre for those people living within the 5km area.  This failed too – by 7 to 4, with me, Robbie Brine, Kevin Felstead and Dan Gordon voting for it.

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