Citizens group 'defunct'

Lyndon Weggery
Lyndon Weggery
Dunedin Ratepayers and Householders' Association chairman Lyndon Weggery has been accused by the group's secretary of being ''the chairman of nothing''.

Association secretary Neville Poole told the Otago Daily Times yesterday the group was ''not a group anymore'' because it had failed to hold an annual meeting for more than two years.

It had also failed to file an annual financial statement with the Companies Office in that time, despite a requirement to do so each year, he said.

That meant Mr Weggery - who most recently addressed Dunedin city councillors on behalf of the association at last week's public forum - was representing only himself.

''He's running round saying he's still the chairman, but he's the chairman of nothing,'' Mr Poole said.

The failure had prompted a letter to Mr Poole from the Companies Office earlier this month, warning the association could be deregistered unless the proper paperwork was filed, he said.

He had written back to the Companies Office, advising the association was ''basically finished''.

''I couldn't fill it in [paperwork] because we hadn't had a meeting.''

A search of Companies Office records yesterday showed the association was still registered, but had not filed a return since its 2009-10 financial statement.

Companies Office staff did not respond to questions about the association yesterday.

When contacted yesterday, Mr Weggery denied he was acting as a one-man band while claiming to represent the city's ratepayers.

It was true the association had not held an annual meeting in two years, or filed returns as required, ''but we are certainly well aware we need to'', he said.

''We may have been in technical breach, but certainly functionally we are still very active,'' he said.

Asked how many members the association had, Mr Weggery said there were about seven ''very active'' executive members within a ''hard core'' of 20 to 30 members, including Mr Poole.

However, the association represented all of Dunedin's ratepayers, unless individuals wrote to the association to opt out - something that had never happened, Mr Weggery said.

The association had chosen not to hold an AGM last year, focusing instead on organising a public meeting that coincided with the council's budget hearings.

He planned to do the same this year, but would include a formal AGM as part of the proceedings and then file an annual return.

Mr Poole said yesterday the association's ageing membership had been in decline, and replacements had failed to materialise in sufficient numbers.

He believed an enthusiastic organiser like former chairman Syd Adie was needed.

''He was an organiser, he was everything ... ''Syd had everything under control.''

Mr Adie resigned as chairman in 2009 and was replaced at an AGM later that year by Mr Weggery, amid signs of tension within the association over its future direction.

Mr Poole had been a member for more than a decade, but said yesterday he would have nothing more to do with the association.

''I'm finished. That's it.''

However, if the association's days were numbered, it could yet be replaced by a new group.

Calton Hill resident Dennis Dorney told the ODT he was planning a public meeting next Tuesday to discuss a move to ''resuscitate'' a ratepayers association.

The meeting would be held at the Dunedin Community House at 7pm, he said.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Plenty outside the umbrella

Well said, digger. The Dunedin district has a lot of active lobby groups and motivated individuals that are politically aware and who swap information when appropriate. Seek and thou shalt find.

Representative?

They have never had a mandate to represent anyone in the city.  Thats why we have elections.  Some of them have run for office, and failed dismally.  How dare he assume that they have any mandate to speak on behalf of anyone? [Abridged]

A need for a community watchdog

Effective ratepayer groups are good for acting as an identifiable voice for many people who can't speak for themselves. They can provide numbers for when things go wrong, in terms of council decision-making, by organising protests, petitions etc.

However, there is also a need for committed groups of people, in the background, to research what are often complicated council manoeuvres designed to deter the public from seeing what they are doing - or not doing. You can't rely on the media to do this job.

In the end, any council watchdog is only as good, and effective, as the people running them. Inevitably, this varies over time.

Activism choices

Dunedin, which presently has nothing much, would be better off with both conventional community activist groups and also e-activism. The two approaches can co-exist and complement each other.

Community action

Community is about like minded people with a public 'cause', not individual empowerment. The tedious protocols are democratic checks and balances. Internetting activism is like phoning it in.

Rural and metropolitan representation

Further to my last comment, people of the Kaipara spring to mind. Strong and organised, a community - not hiding behind the internet.

Internet changes citizen activism

Ratepayer groups of the past, with constitutions, formal meeting procedures, and elected committees, struggled to keep and grow membership and then keep it connected and provided with useful information. Also, they were often sadly, tediously dull.

The internet, email and even online newspapers' comments (like this) make flat, distributed and individually empowering alternative structures possible.

Right now

The Dunedin rural and metropolitan wards could do with a strong, vocal, well-organised and funded ratepayers and householders association, not even counting it's election year for local bodies.

Mickey Mouse

These jokers sound about as dysfunctional as the Stop the Stadium outfit.

Membership

It is ridiculous to say that this association represents all ratepayers unless they opt out. They have no manadate.

Opting out

"However, the association represented all of Dunedin's ratepayers, unless individuals wrote to the association to opt out - something that had never happened, Mr Weggery said."

What a load of tripe. This organisation does not - and never has - represented me as a Dunedin ratepayer. And just so we are perfectly clear, I formally wish to opt out. I'll expect in future that this organisation represents itself correctly like any other self-interest group as representing some Dunedin ratepayes. 

 

Time to move to Summerset

Seven active members? Out of how many thousands of ratepayers in the city?

Just trot off to your retirement homes and be quiet. If I had the time and the inclination, I would write to you and opt out of you representing me. But I am too busy getting on with life and accepting everything isn't perfect.

Perhaps your lack of numbers shows that the majority of people in this city are generally content with what we have.

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