A Masterton lobby group is calling the Mayor and Masterton District Councillors to account as discontent grows with Council decision-making and attitudes. Calling themselves the Pooh Pond Group, their advertising says -
"We need to elect a council which will take control of the decision-making process again, and do so by employing officers and consultants, should they be needed, who take their instructions from our elected representatives."
Serious doubts about the wastewater scheme methodology, which was passed by a close vote, and just before the election, is the primary reason for formation of this group.
Keen to see the Council in action for myself, I attended the August Council meeting. The meeting had the cosy air of a committee meeting in someone's living room, albeit with careful observation of formal meeting procedure.
At no stage were Council managers called to account for their actions. When Council managers were asked a question the answer was always delivered in a "leave this to us, we know what we're doing" manner that brooked no discussion.
Having worked as a manager for a large urban council, where appearing before the council was a truly terrifying experience, it appeared to me that Masterton Council management had it very easy.
Most of the meeting was mindnumbingly boring, as it plodded stolidly through committee report after committee report.
I was struck by the lack of vision, the lack of direction, the lack of passion, the sense that following the meeting agenda was the Most Important Thing, and the sense that they'd been doing exactly the same thing for the last 30 years.
The incoming Masterton Council needs to take hold of the reins, to set the vision and take some bold and entrepreneurial decisions. They need to look closely at the courage of the South Wairarapa District Council, who made some hard decisions about their future direction and staffing in line with what the community wanted.
The Pooh Pond Group is holding a meeting in the Frank Cody Lounge, at the Masterton Town Hall, on Thursday, 23 September, where voters have an opportunity to listen to candidates' views and to ask questions. The meeting will be chaired by Rick Long and starts at 7.30 pm.