Last month the Council considered the following recommendation from the Strategy Policy & Finance (SP&F) Committee:
That the discussion on the future of the Springfield Golf Course be deferred until such time as a full assessment is conducted by Council on a future sports facility that is fit for purpose to meet the future needs of the Rotorua community to go out for full consultation at the appropriate time.
Before last month’s vote was taken Councillor Macpherson gave notice that if the above motion were to fail he would move that the Springfield Golf Club’s lease would be extended upon the same terms and conditions as the existing lease.
Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, also the chair of the Strategy Policy & Finance Committee, stated that if the above motion were to fail it would definitely come to the Strategy Policy & Finance Committee.
Mayor Steve Chadwick agreed saying: That’s right. That’s what I was trying to help you with Cr Macpherson. It’s a substantial item to discuss whether or not we increase a lease for 30 years and that will come before the right committee. So we understand you’re signaling an intention that that be discussed at a committee of Council, not today.
The motion did fail. After some discussion the Council voted 6-5 against the motion.
That being the case, there was a reasonable expectation the item would be on the next SP&F Committee meeting agenda. However, despite the assurances given by both Mayor Chadwick and Cr Raukawa-Tait, the item was conspicuous by it’s absence from the agenda.
At the start of the SP&F meeting Cr Macpherson asked why the item was missing from the agenda and when could it be expected on the agenda. The Committee Chair, Cr Raukawa-Tait agreed that was a relevant question and asked Council staffer Jocelyn Mikaere, one of the seven recently appointed Deputy Chief Executives, to respond. Ms Mikaere explained:
Um so we’ve been planning to do the work on the Westbrook precinct for some time now and it was planned to be in years two and three of our LTP. There’s a number if items we need to check of in order to complete that piece of work. We have done some ecological assessments and some sports field assessments but there’s more to be done there. We’re going to do an economic assessment There is more to be done. We are going to do an economic assessment of the area as well as a housing assessment. We need to do further flooding and storm-water modeling for the area look at alternative land availability, get our master plan designed and fully go through with community consultation – that’s hugely important to us – and then of course we need to develop a business case or some type of case to bring back to council for conversation at that point.
So I would estimate that is going to take us probably the next couple of years. That’s the entire piece of work. With respect to looking at the renewal of the golf course, our lease specifically states that there is no right of renewal and so then we would need to go through a process of working out, if it was the councils direction, a new lease, which would also include community consultation, because it’s important we have that discussion with the community. At this point the valuation of that block of land of 33 hectares or 80 odd acres is around about $14 million – Toff and Young have given us that estimate – so we would need to have that conversation with the community and look at a fair lease if that was what was decided so there is quite a bit of work to be done.
We do have until 2027 to complete that piece of work, until the lease expired, but we would expect we will be well ahead of that time in around about 2024.
Cr Macpherson responded:
The specific amendment we decided on was not to defer consideration of the issue until 2024. As a council. Now, what we’ve heard in terms of timeline would appear to be going back to and contrary to the agreement in council.
Cr Ruakawa-Tait responded:
No we heard last week and it’s been explained again this morning, and there are significant issues that need to be, and we’ve just had it clearly explained there. So I’m not going to have the work program for our staff driven outside of the extent of the work that they have got to do. It’s been clearly explained. This is not going to be a quick fix. It needs to be well worked through and I’m happy that it is on our work program over the next coming years. It is not an urgent matter and I’m not going to consider any further discussion on it.
Last month the Council voted against deferring a decision until 2024. However Cr Raukawa-Tait simply ignored that directive from Council. Whereas the Council voted to take the Springfield “off ramp”, Raukawa-Tait drove the SP&F Committee on regardless. This demonstrated a breathtaking contempt for democracy and democratic principles. Has Rotorua’s Council really degenerated into a small banana republic under the leadership of Mayor Chadwick & Cr Raukawa-Tait? It appears that if they are unable to manufacture consent for their own personal agendas they are willing to try and force it through regardless.
Is it time for Rotorua to have a new Mayor and raft of new Councilors who will respect the will of the people or Rotorua? Check out the “Profiles – Elected Members” section on this website.
Next Council elections: 8 October 2022.