City voters again trying for group to hold council accountable

Lyndon Weggery is looking to restart a ratepayers group in Dunedin. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Lyndon Weggery is looking to restart a ratepayers group in Dunedin. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
One Dunedin ratepayers’ group looks set to be wound up after it struggled for a unified purpose, but another is re-emerging.

The Dunedin Area Residents’ Association (Dara) attempted to represent the interests of all residents, but doing this without contradicting the views of some members was unachievable, chairman Jon Visser said.

Its executive was required to be "apolitical" and some committee members were unable to reconcile this with wanting to support particular council candidates openly, he said.

This led to resignations.

"There is simply no committee left to run Dara," Mr Visser said.

Members had been approached about winding down the group, which started as an incorporated society late in 2020.

Looking to start up, again, is the Dunedin Ratepayers and Householders Association.

A meeting is to be held next month and it will be chaired by Lyndon Weggery, who was chairman when that association folded in 2013.

Mr Weggery said ratepayers needed an effective pressure group.

Keeping the council accountable and rates rises in check would be among its goals.

The group would be apolitical, he said.

This meant it would not endorse particular candidates, political parties or group tickets.

It would likely run meet-the-candidate events and make representations in the public forum period of council meetings, Mr Weggery said.

It would also make submissions at the city council’s annual plan and long-term plan hearings, he said.

In its brief history, this was something Dara never did.

The organisation at one point provided the council with a critique of its housing policy.

At its first annual meeting, last August, Mr Visser spoke of the group being constructive, potentially even being viewed as "a trusted consultant".

A lot of work had gone into getting set up, but the group was unable to fulfil its objectives, he said yesterday.

One key reason for its formation was a perception the council had not listened sufficiently to residents and people were unhappy with some decision-making.

"The fix for that is voting in the democratic process," Mr Visser said yesterday.

The Dunedin Ratepayers and Householders Association was led for many years by Syd Adie.

He stood down in 2009.

Mr Weggery said the association then "struggled for a while with a small group", before it wound up.

Asked for his top five election issues, Mr Weggery nominated rates increases, Three Waters reform, the George St upgrade, the council’s Smooth Hill landfill application and erosion at St Clair and Middle Beaches.

"We’ll certainly be raising these topics for voters at the proposed meetings for candidates," Mr Weggery said.

The group’s re-establishment meeting will be held on June 13 at the Southern Rugby Football Club in South Dunedin and nominations will be sought for committee members.

Mr Weggery said Cr Jim O’Malley had been invited to speak about Three Waters and antiques shop owner Sue Todd would talk about the George St redevelopment.


Can property owners be apolitical dealing with a system of elected representatives?



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