Judicial review threat off table

Waipa District Council held a public meeting in early December to hear verbal submissions on the proposed shared water management company. Katherine Pioletti (pictured, left) opposed the idea. Most public submissions that day supported forming the shared water company.

For the second time, Waipa District Council has voted against forming a shared water company, electing instead to continue independently managing its own water operations.  As a result of last week’s vote, however, the threat of judicial review is now off the table. Hamilton man Peter Findlay, who had proposed the judicial review in January, said that while he was “disappointed” with the outcome, he had decided not to proceed with court action. “Given that both parties (WDC and HCC) had responsibility for the final decision, I will leave it be and let central government set the scene,” he said

Waipa District Council’s chief executive, Garry Dyet.

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In announcing a second vote on the shared water company, Waipa’s chief executive, Garry Dyet, said things had changed since the first vote in December 2017, and a second vote was necessary. “We need to complete the formal consultation process so a further report seeking a final resolution was needed,” he said before last week’s meeting.

He confirmed putting the issue back on the table, had also “in part” been driven by the potential for Mr Findlay to apply for a judicial review of the council’s December decision.

“Legal advice has made it very clear that, whatever council decides to do, elected members must be very clear on the reasons for their decision and this latest report seeks to do that.”

He also cited “very clear signals” from central government that they want a far more strategic approach to providing water services.

To that end, two proposals were put before council. The first, declining to form a shared water company at all, and the second to form a company with the HCC subject to conditions, including the requirement for two other councils to join.

A letter read at the meeting from Hamilton mayor, Andrew King, urged councillors to reconsider December’s motion to create a shared water company, while rejecting the second proposition, allowing for the formation of a water company with a minimum of two other councils, saying it would “add cost, time and further frustration to this process”.

Despite this appeal, Waipa councillors voted 7 -6 in favour of abandoning the proposal altogether, mirroring December’s decision.

Councillor Judy Bannon said she was voting in favour of abandoning the proposal because she was concerned a shared water company would add further cost to building a new house, thereby contributing to the housing crisis in New Zealand. Sue Milner agreed, and said that she felt keeping independent management of the water would be “best for our district and our people”.

Those who voted against forming a non-asset owning, shared water company were councillors Grahame Webber, Sue Milner, Judy Bannon, Clare St Pierre, Elwyn Adree-Wilson, Hazel Barnes and Vern Wilson.

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