Damning Waikanae Library review shows fresh leadership needed at KCDC

The damning review of how Kāpiti Coast District Council failed to handle years of leaky building issues which led to toxic mould at Waikanae Library further shows why fresh leadership is needed at Council and supports the call for a wider review of Council’s asset management practices says mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton.

“This damning review has uncovered systematic failures and hints at a toxic culture within Kāpiti Coast District Council, making it even clearer that fresh leadership is needed to bring about wholesale changes in the organisation,” says Mr Compton.

“The review is forthright in blaming a single-mined pursuit of austerity, poor lines of communication, substandard policies and practices, and issues with high staff turnover at Council that have meant effective and efficient decision making has been sacrificed, with staff feeling unable or unwilling to raise concerns.

“This type of toxic organisational culture is set from the top down, including from elected members, and it is simply not acceptable as it’s costing ratepayers potentially millions of dollars and leads to poor outcomes for our community. The culture at Council has to change and I’ll make sure it changes if I’m elected as Mayor,” says Mr Compton. 

Gwynn Compton also says the report from Morrison Low supports his call for a wider review of Council’s asset management policies and practices, and his recently announced policy for an audit of all Council-owned assets.

“It was apparent back in February when it was revealed 16 years of leaky building issues had been ignored that Council’s asset management policies and practices were rotten, which is why I called at the time for these to be reviewed. I also recently announced that I’ll implement an audit of all Council-owned property to ensure there’s no further issues literally hiding in the woodwork.

“These ongoing and systematic issues within Kāpiti Coast District Council only further reinforces why fresh leadership and a community-led approach are urgently needed. It’s exactly what I’ve promised to bring to the table if I’m elected as Mayor, and I’m looking forward to getting on with the job of fixing our Council.”

RMA overhaul a good start, but challenge in turning recommendations into reality

Kāpiti Coast mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton says news the government is overhauling the Resource Management Act with a focus on delivering more affordable housing is a good start, but the key will be whether any changes make it into law given how politically problematic past attempts at reform have been.

“It’s good to see the government getting things started on overhauling the Resource Management Act and in particular that they’re focussing on how the RMA can be improved to help increase the supply of affordable housing,” says Mr Compton.

“However, history shows us multiple governments have attempted to fix and reform the RMA and those efforts have typically resulted in either minor tinkering that only adds to the complexity of the law, or have floundered on the fraught political seas of the issue.”

Gwynn Compton says these past difficulties in progressing changes to the Resource Management Act reflect the need to balance the views of communities, protections for the environment, while still enabling development to take place.

“The reality is RMA reform is incredibly difficult. It’s vital any changes preserve the ability of communities to have their say on developments that may impact them and continue to have adequate protections our environment, while balancing these against the need to simplify and clarify the law and processes around it to reduce the often onerous cost and time burdens that are required to get resource consents.

“I look forward to the government and the Resource Management Review Panel working closely with local authorities and the communities they represent to make sure the overhaul of the RMA delivers practical recommendations that can be turned into reality, rather than being another missed turn on the perilous road of RMA reform.”

Council’s social housing attitude “absolutely disgraceful”

Kāpiti Coast mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton has slammed Kāpiti Coast District Council’s attitude and lack of any plan to deal with social housing shortages as “absolutely disgraceful” following news pensioners have been left waiting for more than two years for council housing, with only one of the 50 people who withdrew from the list in the past three years having found alternative accommodation, while the others have either been forced out of Kāpiti or died while waiting.

“It simply isn’t good enough that we’re still waiting to see any real action from this Council on Kāpiti’s housing crisis. Their lack of any urgency in addressing the housing crisis and their attitude towards council’s role in providing social housing is absolutely disgraceful, especially when the situation will only get worse once Transmission Gully opens if no action is taken,” says Mr Compton.

Of particular concern to Gwynn Compton has been the ongoing refusal by Council and Mayor K Gurunathan to accept responsibility for council playing a meaningful role in providing social housing and instead trying to pass the buck on to central government.

“The continued attempts from council and Mayor K Gurunathan to palm off responsibility for social housing to central government aren’t credible and are downright embarrassing for a district like Kāpiti that prides itself on being a retirement destination. Most other councils see social housing as a core responsibility, and this just reinforces why Kāpiti needs to vote for change this election to bring in fresh leadership who will take the significant issues facing Kāpiti seriously.

“Council has already wasted two years without taking any meaningful action on the recommendations of the Kāpiti Coast Communities Housing Taskforce which they asked for in the first place, and Kāpiti’s pensioner housing shortage shows why we can’t afford to waste anymore time. If I’m elected as Mayor I’ll make sure we urgently implement the Taskforce’s recommendations as the basis for getting our housing crisis under control.”

Read Gwynn Compton’s housing policy at: www.gwynncompton.co.nz/policies

Voters need confidence that NZ Post can deliver for local government elections

Kāpiti Coast mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton has written to State-Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters, Finance Minister Grant Robertson (as a shareholding Minister of New Zealand Post), and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to seek assurances that New Zealand Post will be able to deliver voting packs and return completed ballot papers in a timely manner for this year’s local authority elections.

“We all know how bad New Zealand Post’s delivery time frames have become, and the experience of the recently held Board of Trustee elections for schools, where many parents received voting packs so late that they only had a day to consider them, let alone being able to return them in time via the post, raises serious questions about New Zealand Post’s ability to deliver things on time during this year’s local authority elections,” says Mr Compton.

“With voting open for just over three weeks between 20 September and 12 October, if delays similar to what have plagued the Board of Trustee elections occurred again, it would potentially mean tens of thousands of New Zealanders won’t be able to get their votes in on time via the post.

“With local authority elections built largely around postal voting, the seeming inability of New Zealand Post to deliver mail in a timely fashion runs the risk of undermining the confidence New Zealanders have in the electoral process.”

With four months to go until election day, Gwynn Compton is calling on Ministers Peters, Robertson, and Mahuta to take the issue seriously and urgently take all actions available to them to ensure this year’s local authority elections aren’t undermined by postal delays.

“It’s vital for the health of both local government and local democracy that New Zealanders aren’t effectively disenfranchised by something like postal delays. With participation in local authority elections already low, I’d expect the Ministers responsible to be taking every action available to them so that every voter who wants to have their say has the opportunity to do so.”

Concerns regarding NZ Post and this year's local body elections

I’ve written to Winston Peters, Grant Robertson, and Nanaia Mahuta with my concerns that the recent issues with the timeliness of New Zealand Post’s delivery services. In the just completed school Board of Trustees elections there have been major issues relating to the late delivery of voting packs meaning many parents will have missed out on the ability to vote.

This raises serious questions about New Zealand Post’s ability to ensure voters receiving their voting packs and can return their completed ballots in this year’s local body elections.

If New Zealanders can’t have confidence that their votes will be delivered in time to be counted, it will have a significant impact on turnout in this year’s election, and that is simply not acceptable.

I’ll update you when I hear back, and I’ll keep chasing on this too.

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Out-of-date kapiticoastnz.com website a $35,000 embarrassment for Kāpiti

With the kapiticoastnz.com website meant to promote the Kāpiti Coast to New Zealand and the world, mayoral candidate Gwynn Compton says the lack of up-to-date information on the website gives potential visitors, or businesses looking to invest in the district, the wrong impression, and calls into question the value of the $35,000 spent developing what is basically a scaled down version of the existing wellingtonnz.com website.

“We get one chance to put our best foot forward for those looking to visit or do business in Kāpiti, and it’s an embarrassment that right now we look like a district that doesn’t have our act together given we can’t even keep our flagship website up to date,” says Mr Compton.

With the Kāpiti i-SITE at Coastlands now permanently closed, the promotional website kapiticoastnz.com had been touted by Kāpiti Coast District Council as being able to fill the gap for visitors. However, with content on the site out of date, low visitor numbers, and $35,000 having been paid for what is essentially a scaled down version of Wellington’s wellingtonnz.com website developed by the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, Gwynn Compton says that “serious questions need to be asked about the value Kāpiti’s ratepayers and businesses are getting out of what looks to be a digital white elephant.”

Figures released to Gwynn Compton under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act reveal that Kāpiti Coast District Council spent $35,000 on developing kapiticoastnz.com. They also reveal that in the 10 months since the website launched in July 2018, an average of less than 950 unique visitors per month have found their way to the website.

“Having been involved with website development for nearly two decades, it’s hard to see how the kapiticoastnz.com cost $35,000 to develop, especially when it was built off the back of the existing wellingtonnz.com website and seemingly little effort has been spent keeping content on it up to date. For example, when visitors eventually make their way to the site’s hard to find events page, they’ll find that only Coastella, the Ōtaki Kite Festival, and Māoriland Film Festival are listed, and even then those listings don’t contain links to the main websites of those major events,” says Mr Compton.

“There’s also no mention of the regular fairs and markets held from Paekākāriki to Ōtaki, the Kāpiti Food Fair, the various gigs and theatre productions that take place at great tourist locations like Tuatara and North End breweries or Southward Car Museum, and the dozens of other smaller community events that take place throughout the Kāpiti Coast every month.”

“Things don’t get much better when you navigate to the ‘Do business’ and ‘Meet in Kāpiti’ sections of the website,” says Gwynn Compton.

“While Enterprising at 50 plus has been added in recent months, the website still refers to 2018’s Kāpiti Startup Weekend and Electra Business Awards, even though the 2019 edition of Startup Weekend has just taken place. Likewise, if you go searching for any demographic or statistical information about Kāpiti, no additional quarterly economic updates have been added since March 2018. Meanwhile, the venues page still lists Whitireia’s old Kāpiti Road campus even though the site has been closed since the start of 2019.”

With competition for visitors and business investment fiercer than ever, and the closure of the i-SITE taking away a key information channel for tourists, Gwynn Compton says that Kāpiti Coast District Council needs to urgently update the kapiticoastnz.com website, commit to keeping content on it relevant, and explain to Kāpiti ratepayers how it cost so much in the first place.