Interest low as WEL trust election nears

RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 09:54 17/06/2014

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Confusion, bad weather and general satisfaction with the trust are being cited as reasons only 40-odd people from a voting pool of 129,000 turned up to a public meeting with WEL Energy Trust candidates.

The meeting last week was intended as a meet and greet for candidates standing in the triennial election to WEL Energy Trust - a publicly owned asset which distributes surplus income from energy-related projects to the community in the form of grants.

Deputy chairwoman Denise Harding said she was pleased people braved the miserable weather on Wednesday to attend the meeting.

"[The turnout] probably conveys people are either happy with the trust, or don't fully understand what the trust does, or the bad weather put them off."

Harding said, apart from community groups who applied for grants and those directly connected with them, the public did not have a good understanding of the trust. "Despite the efforts the trust and WEL Networks has done to keep people informed about what we do people don't pay attention unless they are directly involved."

WEL Energy Trust recently pledged a $30,000 grant to Hamilton Boys' High School for its 10-year, three-stage Hamilton East Community Sports Complex, and dished out a grant for the Te Awa cycleway, which opened last December.

Current chairman Mark Ingle also had a positive outlook on the meeting and said a good mixture of community people and group members from organisations were there, but agreed people didn't normally engage unless they were directors or shareholders of a connected group.

"Because it's not central government, the space in which WEL plays in people's lives is very small. If you don't have a business mind it's just noise."

Harding said all WEL Energy Trust meetings were public.

Voting documents for the triennial election for the trust hit the mailboxes of 129,000 electors this week.

Eleven candidates are running for the seven positions on the trust. The final day for handing in voting papers is noon, June 27. 

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- Waikato

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