Council tries to stop fiscally conservative Cr from participating

The Taxpayers Union released:

Around the country there are some elected officials who are on the ratepayers’ side: asking the tough questions of officials, and determined to deliver rate increases no higher than is absolutely necessary.

One of those centre-right councillors is our former Grassroots and Engagement Coordinator, Grace Ayling.

After leaving the Taxpayers’ Union to become a mum, Grace stood for her local Wairarapa council, in Carterton.

Grace was elected to the Council on a platform of stopping wasteful spending, such as the huge amounts the small rural council was pumping into cycleways that barely anyone was using. As a young family just starting off on the housing ladder, Grace wants her local council to focus on delivering core services and basic infrastructure well (don’t we all!).

Not only was Grace elected, she walked the talk! Grace is known for respectfully challenging Council officials on spending, rates, (and, yes, cycle ways).

Earlier this month, Grace even made a submission on the Council’s Long Term Plan (10-year budget). You can read her submission here – it is totally consistent with her election platform to seek value for money for ratepayers.

It turns out, officials do not like being challenged by a councillor. Instead of allowing Grace to advocate her well known views (and fulfil on her election promises to advocate for prudent spending) the Council CEO and officials have mounted a campaign to exclude Grace from the council hearings that consider the Long Term Plan/10-year Budget.

The officials claim that a councillor who had expressed views on rates is no longer ‘independent’ and has a conflict of interest in terms of decisions about rates and spending.

Yesterday, on the basis of “informal advice” from Local Government New Zealand, the Council kicked Grace out of the hearings committee (which every councillor usually sits on) because, in the Chair’s view, Grace might not be able to accept other views with an open mind and is therefor ‘conflicted’.

It wasn’t even voted on by councillors (in and of itself a breach of the Council’s standing orders). Officials just ‘determined’ that Grace had to leave. 

This is just ridiculous, and an act of censorship.

Deciding the budget is a political process, not a judicial process. Trying to remove voting rights from a Councillor because they have expressed their view that rates are too high is nuts. It’s like saying that a Councillor who wants to stop a library being closed can no longer vote on whether that library closes.

Comments (63)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment