Letters to the Editor
Second EcoCare disaster ahead?
Dear John Robertson: You are on the way to creating a second EcoCare disaster.
The main knowledge from the past has to be that all further projects have to be done with a solid participation of the villagers. The basis of democracy is that the opinions of the people are involved and seriously considered. Who has at the end to pay has beforehand had to have the chance to have his say.
The members of the Mangawhai Community Waste Water Scheme Advisory Panel, you sadly have not selected to mirror the diversity of the community.
This Advisory Panel has made their research, their consultation process and their final report without good sense. The report is full of misleading errors:
1. I have learned that a report needs not only to describe the technical options but also an estimate about the amount of money that it needs to realise the project. To understand the numbers it is essential to figure out what this means in relation to each connection.
The only cost estimate I could find in the report is about the irrigation.
The preferred option from the panel is the irrigation of the golf course with $8.347 million dollars for 414 new connections in the next eight years. This is NZ$20,162 for each new connection. On top comes reticulations and grinder pumps etc. This is a hard lesson for everyone who thought more connections made the scheme more cost efficient.
2. The final report provides no information about the operating costs. It took me several requests to finally get some basic information. In the year 2013-14 the operating expenditure without capital expenditure, finance costs and internal charges and recoveries have been $1.962 million dollars for 1,622 connected properties – annually NZ$1,210 for each property. This expenditure is partly spread towards the whole Kaipara District. Without providing this information the report is misleading.
3. A consultation report needs to show all opinions and not only those that the selected members like. I have shown the Advisory Panel an option 5: nil discharge systems, very cost effective and environmentally friendly. I have provided information from a local company and from international science. None of this information is shown in the final report. The comments about on-site systems are without good sense and don’t consider today’s knowledge.
4. The feedback documentation of the report does not show numbers but only percentages. I estimate that less than 100 people have returned their feedbacks. This few feedbacks means nothing compare to the more than 200 people that signed a submission that there is not enough information provided to give proper answers.
5. To top it off, the Advisory Panel has manipulated the statistics; invent with a lie a reason to remove 30 percent of the collected feedbacks because the answer does not suit their intention.
When the whole district has to pay for the Mangawhai sewage scheme extension for the capital and operational expenditure, the whole district needs to be involved in the consultation process.
Dear Commissioners, I strongly advise you not to use the final report of the Advisory Panel as an ongoing consultation process to prefix mandatory connections. When there is no proper reason for mandatory connection, not moneywise and not for the environment, then it would be a crime to do so. Don’t promote a last century technology and nail the community to this, imposing
more debt only to create another playground for consultants and corporations. You can be sure that this would create your next court case. This time the ratepayer will not wait till the millions have disappeared.
Rates figures not right
I must take exception to Commissar Robertson’s figure for those withholding rates published in last weeks Mangawhai Focus.
At the time of publication I had only just received these very figures from Kaipara District Council, requested under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
The numbers supplied are substantially greater than those quoted by Mr Robertson. Indeed they are about a factor of ten times greater.
Surely such a ‘high performing organisation’ should be able to get these very simple things right and I can only wonder how badly reported are figures representing more complex calculations than counting the number of ratepayers withholding rates. Perhaps they’ve lost their way?
I am able to supply these figures but feel I should, in fairness, first offer Mr Robertson an opportunity to publish a retraction and correction.