Petition queried

EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012

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Kaikoura

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Organisers of a petition calling for a halt to the proposed civic building were the subject of criticism at last week's Kaikoura District Council meeting.

The topic was on the agenda for the council to receive the petition, which it did. However, this led to a robust discussion about the methods used to collect signatures.

Councillor David Holmes suggested many people had signed the petition outside New World without thinking about what they were doing and likened it to buying chewing gum because it is presented at the checkout.

Many of those who had signed had not intended to do so, he said.

Councillor Holmes also said the petition should have only been made available for two days, rather than being "dragged on over weeks".

If people had not signed it in the first two days, they were obviously not that concerned, he said.

Councillor Stu Burrows said it needed to be pointed out that a "silent majority" of the community had not signed.

Many people around town were saying council should just be getting on with it, he said.

Councillor John Macphail suggested some of the signatures could have been a result of a lack of information.

He said he would like to see the plans presented to the public.

Councillor Darlene Morgan agreed the plans should have been presented and she was disappointed at council for not giving the community due recognition.

She was also disappointed in the attitude of some councillors who were suggesting people had not known what they were signing, or that they were silly to sign the petition.

Council's process had been flawed and the community deserved to be better informed, she said.

Petition organiser John Taggart said councillors were entitled to their opinions but he did not force anyone to sign, he merely presented people with the option of doing so.

He had also kept the wording deliberately simple and he believed people knew what they were doing when they put pen to paper.

Mr Taggart also said that allowing people only two days to sign a petition was not realistic. The asset sale petition had been going for six months, he said.

The council received the petition at its meeting last Wednesday after Mr Taggart handed it to mayor Winston Gray on October 19 outside the council offices. Kaikoura MP Colin King, who was present, was supportive of the petition because of the number of signatures from such a small community.

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- Kaikoura Star

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