Transport committee slot goes to Hapeta

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 18/12/2013

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Bus enthusiast Chris Teo-Sherrell has been denied a chance to represent the Palmerston North City Council on the Horizons passenger transport committee.

The city council has, instead, given the job to new councillor Leonie Hapeta, who has a particular interest in network planning to strengthen the city's role as a transport hub.

The council backed Cr Hapeta in a 10-4 vote after both councillors made a brief statement to the council meeting this week.

Cr Teo-Sherrell's pitch was backed up by a six-page application and references, detailing 15 years of advocacy, research, conference attendances and study of passenger transport systems around the world.

He wrote a plan for a free, ratepayer-funded grid-based service for Palmerston North, which is likely to form the basis of one of the options Horizons Regional Council will consult on early next year in its "first principles" review of the city's bus services.

He said it was important the city was represented by someone who was up to speed on passenger transport issues.

Cr Hapeta said she really wanted to be on the committee, was keen to learn and would ask questions.

Cr Teo-Sherrell said he was disappointed by the decision, and that he had been sidelined because of his history of challenging the majority council view on issues.

He had not given the council an assurance, sought after a code of conduct complaint was upheld against him in the last term of council, that he would not publicly criticise staff in future.

Mayor Jono Naylor, who was unable to be at the council meeting, said he had not recommended Cr Teo-Sherrell for the position, and the majority of councillors had backed his choice.

"He has made no effort to follow through on the recommendations of the code of conduct committee," he said.

"I don't feel inclined to nominate him for anything unless he does."

Mr Naylor said he was confident Cr Hapeta would do a "fantastic job" of representing the council's views to the committee.

Cr Teo-Sherrell said he thought Cr Hapeta was serious and enthusiastic about the role, but that he was much better-qualified.

Cr Hapeta said she thought they should both be on the committee, and had sought that compromise, but had been told it was not possible.

She said she was keen to see better bus services, and better links between the city and regional council's wider transport plans.

"There are a lot of plans out there, and I want to make sure they are all saying the same thing."

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