Kapiti to get water meters

Last updated 14:46 07/06/2012
Jenny Rowan
Kapiti mayor Jenny Rowan.

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LATEST: Kapiti's mayor called police after protesters disrupted a council meeting at which water meters for the region were approved.

About 10 "Ask Us First" water meter opponents, who collected over 8000 signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on Kapiti Coast District Council's proposed $8 million installation of meters, heckled councillors as they discussed the issue this morning.

Ms Rowan ordered the group to stop interjecting, and when they continued, yelled out of at staff member, "call the police".

Two police patrol cars arrived outside the building but the officers did not enter the meeting room at Meadows Church, despite a final slinging match between "Ask Us First" founder Jackie Elliott and Rowan hurling "don't tell me what to do" at each other.

Elliott stressed the community was not being listened to.

When Rowan announced police would eject hecklers from the meeting if they continued, they called out  "bring it on".

The council voted 8-3 in favour of the installation of water meters from July 1 and that a report be prepared on tender costs and project timelines be brought to a council meeting on June 28.

Councillors K.Gurunathan, Ross Church and Tony Lloyd voted against meters voicing concern about community opposition, with councillor Gurunathan saying the council did not have a mandate to introduce meters unless it was made an election issue in next year's local body elections.

"Throughout this process opposition to water meters has increased. Unfortunately rational, evidence-based debate has suffered from the impact of other negative issues - some would say council bungling - over projected costs of the aqua centre, civic building, Otaki mainstreet project and the CEO's pay rise," he said.

Lloyd said the issue had caused an irreversible  division between the council and the community. He believed some elderly people would be so nervous about the cost of water they would not shower regularly, which could result in health issues.

Church said he was not 100 per cent convinced it was the right time to decide on the issue, given the community opposition.

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Rowan said community consultation had been robust and the council had a responsibility to provide potable water.

Councillor Peter Ellis called opponents "a noisy minority".

Other councillors supporting meters, including Diane Ammundsen, Mike Cardiff, Penny Gaylor, Tony Lester, Hilary Wooding and Roger Booth, as well as Rowan, believed meters would reduce water use , find leaks and stop small consumers, often pensioners, subsidising larger users.

- The Dominion Post


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