6 Councillors who are going to get challenged

Yesterday the Auckland Council?s Regulatory and Bylaws Committee decided to ignore unanimous support from local residents and instead listen to two council officials and over ride a 5 year ban on set netting in Arkles Bay.

In doing so they placed a target on their backs for a strong campaign to ensure they are replaced.

A decision made by Auckland Council?s Regulatory and Bylaws Committee today (October 13) will see the current year-round ban on set netting in Arkles Bay replaced with a summer-only ban that runs from November 1 to April 30 each year. The summer ban will be within 200 metres (seaward) of the Mean High Water Spring.

This decision flies in the face of a united front from the community, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board and Councillors John Watson and Wayne Walker who sought a continuation of the year-round ban.

The year-round ban on set netting, introduced by the former Rodney District Council in March 2007, was unique in Auckland and it was this that appeared to make it problematic for Auckland Council?s ?one size fits all? approach.

Council staff offered residents an opportunity for feedback prior to today?s committee meeting, via a website, promising that all such feedback would be put before Councillors for consideration. More than 660 submissions were received in the week after that address was publicised in Hibiscus Matters? October 1 issue.

However, Albany Ward Councillor John Watson, who is on the Regulatory and Bylaws Committee, says those comments were not put before the committee.

?The impassioned and evidence-based views of the local community were ignored,? he says.

Dodgy council officers doing dodgy secret stuff. ?The local Councillors and Board members were 100% opposed to this change. At a recent local board meeting I spoke and warned them all what would happen if they over-turned the ban. At that meeting it was unanimous to keep the ban in place.

He says councillors who voted for a summer ban also ignored evidence that there was actually more set netting during the winter before the Rodney District Council ban was put in place.

Arkles Bay Community Committee representative Alan Sayers says the change means that a large-scale fishing operation, which used to cause problems including threatening behaviour, can again take place.

Arkles is adjacent to the Long Bay-Okura Marine Reserve and is targeted by set netters because fish are plentiful.

?We have evidence of truck loads of fish being taken from those nets each week, before the permanent ban was put in place,? Alan says.

However, he says that the biggest concern is the health and safety of beach users.

?It?s a very popular family beach, all year round. The population of Arkles Bay has doubled since the Rodney District Council put the permanent ban in place and there are people everyday here training for triathlons, and kayakers ? many of them school children.

?This decision has been made absolutely contrary to the evidence provided and the community?s wishes. Council staff didn?t want to make Arkles Bay an exception, despite the fact that there are exceptional circumstances in our bay.?

Hibiscus & Bays Local Board chair Julia Parfitt and deputy chair Greg Sayers made a last ditch attempt to influence the committee, with a presentation in favour of a year-round ban, prior to the vote.

Greg Sayers says that the fact that this was also ignored shows that Auckland Council?s co-governance model is not working for local communities.

?The reason given for voting against a permanent ban was that Council want uniformity in the rules,? Greg says.??That approach has failed Arkles Bay.?

The council officers have rode rough-shod over the community, and they are unaccountable and unelected. Those who are elected in this area well know they will be voted out if they supported the removal of the set net ban.

All winter we have enjoyed seals, dolphins and Orca in Arkles Bay, they are now at risk because of 6 drop kicks who don’t even live here. Those who voted against the removal of the ban included the representatives of the Maori Statutory Authority, Glen Wilcox and Karen Wilson, so clearly they saw value in protecting the beach and the fish from the set netters.

Those who voted to remove the set net ban are:?Calum Penrose, Denise Krum, Bill Cashmore, Linda Cooper, Alf Filipaina and George Wood. I will now arrange and organise for them to be targeted in a very nasty and very personal third party campaign at next year’s election.

Those 6 drop kicks have just wrecked a beach. Now we will wreck their careers at the ballot box.