Row over branding briefing

It was "disrespectful" to the Marlborough District Council not to show councillors the first draft of regional marketing brand exercise, the Marlborough Story, councillors say.

At yesterday's regional development and planning committee, councillors Peter Jerram, Geoff Evans, Terry Sloan, and Laressa Shenfield said a briefing of councillors, Destination Marlborough and Marlborough Chamber of Commerce board members together on Monday was not the right way to do it.

The council was the only organisation funding it and it should be briefed first and separately, they said.

Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman said the briefing on Monday was an "invite-only" briefing to the leaders of the groups involved in the Marlborough Story development.

All three groups were working in partnership on it, even though the council was the main funder, he said.

"This is not the council's story. It has to be championed by industry. If they don't embrace it, it won't run."

The Marlborough Story will be used to promote the region and its products nationally and internationally. It has been compiled by Christchurch-based company Strategy by Design.

The meeting was councillors' chance to have their input into the concept, Sowman said.

But Jerram said the shared nature of the meeting meant it was not a forum to be negative in.

It was "disrespectful and disempowering" to councillors not to be briefed on it first, particularly as some had gone along with the process reluctantly and it was now being presented as a fait accompli.

Sloan said councillors were losing the opportunity for free and frank discussion on the Marlborough Story.

"We can't share our views without offending all those who have put the work in on this."

Councillor Brian Dawson said the council needed an opportunity to discuss it after Monday's presentation. Some councillors were not able to attend.

Committee chairman Trevor Hook said the Monday meeting was an opportunity for members of the organisations involved to be briefed on the process and the end result. It was not completed, and would not be made public yet.

The Marlborough Express