Tamahere rep to quit

As Waipā grapples with a disillusioned electorate and hotly contested arguments over a new bridge and museum, a councillor in a neighbouring authority has cited his own frustrations and blown the whistle on his political career.

First time Waikato District councillor Mike Keir has announced he’s had enough and, in a column in today’s The News reveals he won’t stand at the next election.

Mike Keir

Keir, one of two councillors representing Tamahere on the council has cited a culture of fear.

“If you do something it could go wrong, better to play it safe and do nothing, that way we can’t get in trouble,” he writes.

But he acknowledged there is good reason for the fear.

“Local councils have often ended up as the fall guy for all sorts of issues.  Leaky buildings comes to mind and the failed Bella Vista subdivision in Tauranga whose city council wore millions of dollars in costs. That council has just been hit with another massive leaky building fine that it should not have been held responsible for, but it is the easy target.

“Councils are supposed to both enable and be regulatory.  Sadly the enabling component of councils is almost non-existent due to this culture of fear and we are left as regulators who err on the side of a very conservative caution.”

He says many in the community are happy with that approach, but argues it leads  “at best” to  second rate governance.

His comments come as The News has criticised elected councillors for not speaking up and expressing opinions at meetings. One of the biggest issues facing them  – recommendations for the placement third bridge for Cambridge – was delegated to staff.

In the ultimate irony, councillors are not permitted to express an opinion in public before debating an issue – so on the only occasion in the council’s current term that one has broken ranks, it will probably have fatal consequences for him.

Philip Coles has openly opposed the bridge route proposal which has outraged Cambridge residents, and under the  rules of council, he has effectively disqualified himself from taking part in the debate on the issue or voting on it.

See: Why I’ll quit

Frustration. Photo: Andrea Piacquadio, pexels.com

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