The frustration of Ōtaki Community Board members at repeated requests for information from one of its own was evident at the November meeting.
Board member Shelly Warwick submitted a list of 11 requests for information on issues as wide-ranging as a meeting between the Mayor K Gurunathan and the police earlier this year, the engagement process for a local alcohol plan (LAP), and the activities of Elevate Ōtaki.
The requests were tabled after Shelly had earlier emailed them to board members and to Kāpiti Coast District Council’s people and partnerships group manager, Janice McDougall. Janice was not at the November 2 board meeting. Community board member Marilyn Stevens had also offered her apologies.
Members attending were Shelly, chair Chris Papps, Ōtaki Ward Councillor James Cootes and new member Cam Butler. Mayor Guru and council infrastructure services group manager Sean Mallon also attended.
In response to the requests, Chris told Shelly several times during the meeting: “You’ve already got the information.”
She told Ōtaki Today later that the requests were unnecessary and involved board members and council staff in time-consuming responses.
“All board members are entitled to seek information that helps them make decisions and inform their constituents,” Chris said. “But when that information is already available through minutes and discussion at formal and informal board meetings, then requests like this are frustrating.”
Chris noted that Shelly didn’t attend the November pre-board meeting where issues that might be raised could be discussed.
“Those meetings can be really helpful to resolve issues before they go to the public meeting.”
However, Shelly told Ōtaki Today she was working on that day. She said she was frustrated at not being able to get information from council staff.
“I’m frustrated by the perceived follow-up by council staff, especially in the recent environment of the representation review where they were prepared to give their assistance to district-wide councillors who aren’t part of community decisions and community engagement,” she said.
James Cootes was also clearly frustrated at Shelly’s requests.
“Many of the requests had already been answered via emails to elected members from staff or the information was readily available on the council website,” he said later. “I’m all for people being adequately informed but asking for information that’s already been provided is not efficient nor a good use of the staff’s time or ours”.
At one point in the meeting, a member of the public wanted to join the discussion, which chair Chris Papps declined. Standing orders allow public speaking time, but the public cannot generally comment during board business. Shelly objected and was rebuked by the chair for disputing the decision. Mayor Guru later also asked Shelly not to interrupt Chris.
During general business Shelly proposed that the board support a motion that the “paper road” through Ashford Park from Te Roto Road to Ōtaki River “be retained by KCDC until there is a definite access for the public”.
At public speaking time, Te Roto Road resident Rob McIndoe spoke about the need to ensure the paper road was not discarded as an access option for the future. Access is currently via the much-disputed track skirting the race course shared by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Rob argued that the track could in future be sold for other purposes, such as housing.
However, Sean Mallon said the process of removing a paper road from the plans would be lengthy and involve an element of public consultation, so it could not simply disappear.
The motion was not supported.
“It’s not an issue,” Chris said later. “This is just another example of creating a problem where there is none, and then saying no one will do anything about it.”
In other business, new street and reserve names were approved for a Mill Road subdivision.
The board approved $500 grants for:
Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki to run Friday night sessions for rangatahi
Kāpiti Concert Orchestra for a concert in Ōtaki on November 27
Ōtaki Promotions Group for the Light up Ōtaki business light challenge and residential lights map
Birthright Ōtaki for the costs of organising a Christmas party
Kāpiti Coast Harness Racing for children’s entertainment at its January race meeting
Ōtaki Community Network Group for room rental for meetings.