Mayoral candidates row over decision making
Tensions between Marlborough District Councillors erupted at a public meeting in Renwick last night.
Former Wairau-Awatere ward councillor Pat O'Sullivan asked a question about who the council should involve in decision-making on the Long Term Council Community Plan, and sparked a spat between Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman, who is standing for re-election and mayoral candidate Jamie Arbuckle.
The question was hinting at long-simmering resentments about "A" teams and "B" teams around the council table - those councillors included in key decision-making and those who were not.
Mr Arbuckle said the council needed to include all councillors, not just some.
Mr Sowman responded that all councillors did have the opportunity to have input.
The draft plan went to the full council, he said, and any councillor could attend any committee meeting, even if they weren't members, and councillors Geoff Evans and Graeme Barsanti had.
Mr Evans stood up to say he had never attended any of the long term plan committee meetings and had not been asked to be involved in them either.
The meeting, hosted by the Renwick Residents' Association, was attended by about 60 people despite last night's terrible weather.
Mayoral candidates Mr Sowman, Mr Arbuckle, Brian Dawson, and Richard Feather and the five candidates for the three Wairau-Awatere ward seats on the Marlborough District Council - Martyn Birch, Cynthia Brooks, Bev Doole, Mr Evans, and Peter Jerram introduced themselves and answered questions from the floor.
Members of the public asked questions on water, asset sales, volunteer work, and environmental issues. A particularly hot topic was proposed landscape restrictions on what colour houses could be painted in parts of the district.
Mr Feather said it was his outrage at the ridiculousness of the proposal that had prompted him to stand as mayor.
Mr Jerram said he personally didn't care about the colour palette rules, but some people in the affected areas did and that's why it was out for consultation with affected owners. It was only for two areas, he said, the Marlborough Sounds and part of the Fairhall area. He had been approached by people in the Omaka Valley who wanted to be included.
Ms Doole said the council was going through the process properly and talking directly with affected landholders.
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