Rates, sewerage, car park factors

Discontent over rates increases during a recession, Grovetown sewerage and Alfred St car park tendering could have contributed to the cleanout of sitting Marlborough District councillors, former mayor Leo McKendry says.

Six sitting councillors – including three former mayors and other long-time councillors – were culled on Saturday.

Mr McKendry said the voting reflected a general feeling of discontent and the need for change from early in the campaign.

"I don't know if it's possible for anyone to put their finger on any specific issue," he said.

But Grovetown sewerage, the Alfred St car park tender debate and rates increases had all been contentious.

"This time age had a huge amount to do with it. There are very few people over the age of 60 who have been elected this time."

Mr McKendry was a borough councillor in 1980-83, mayor of the former Blenheim Borough Council in 1986-89, and mayor of the Marlborough District Council for two terms in 1989-95.

It was common to have four or five changes on the council back then, he said.

"There is a need for fresh thinking on any organisation."

Mr McKendry stood by his comment early in the campaign that past mayors should not stand again for the council. This belief seemed to have got some traction, he said.

"I've just always believed it was an unwritten rule once you were defeated or retired, it was time to go completely.

"The message from the public is they are not happy with your performance. Why would you want to go back?"

The change in the council would be good for the region, but he expected returning Mayor Alistair Sowman would have a tough job putting together a team to hear resource consents.

"That is arguably the most difficult and important job that any councillor can be involved in doing because they determine what happens in the district."

New councillors might have a "rude awakening".

"It's one thing to look at it from the outside, but it's not as easy as it appears. Change is not an easy thing to implement as one would think."

The Marlborough Express