GDC calls for action as merger talks drag on

'Let's move ahead.'

'Let's move ahead.'

COLLABORATING with Tourism Eastland will be a condition of a three-year contract that will put all economic development under the control of Activate Tairawhiti.

Gisborne District Council staff have been instructed to negotiate a $545,000 contract with Activate Tairawhiti that will include economic development, tourism and regional marketing.

That was the outcome of a protracted discussion yesterday in which district councillors spent time struggling to come up with a satisfactory resolution.

Councillors were anxious that the negotiations for an amalgamation between Activate Tairawhiti, the economic development unit funded by it and the Eastland Community Trust, Tourism Eastland and Heart of Gisborne should not be allowed to drag on further.

Before their debate they had heard last-minute presentations from Activate Tairawhiti chairman John Rae and Tourism Eastland’s David Sly and life member Penny Shaw.

An original resolution from Rehette Stoltz was withdrawn and after wrestling further the council finally adopted one suggested by staff.

Mrs Stoltz said this was an opportunity to move this situation forward. It would not be possible to please everybody but she proposed adding a phrase to the recommendation that the two parties collaborate.

GDC chief executive Judy Campbell said the original proposal was put on the basis of a single entity made up of Tourism Eastland, Activate Tairawhiti and Heart of Gisborne.

During that original process three years ago, councillors were lobbied about the merge, as they had been today.
The original recommendation to the council caused staff some concern in terms of the best use of ratepayer funds.
Later, the wording was tightened to include the word amalgamate.

A messy process

The process had been a messy one. Staff had facilitated a number of meetings where everybody agreed it was a good idea to amalgamate and said leave it to us. But on each occasion they had come back after months and said there had been no agreement.

Three more years had passed with the money going out in two directions without the benefit of a single voice and direction.

The staff recommendation was that whatever they did there should be some firm milestones because otherwise it was likely to drag out for years.

“We simply encourage you to have the courage of your convictions and do whatever you think is the right thing,” said Mrs Campbell.

Mrs Stoltz said it was not her intention for this to come back to the council again in a few months. She wanted to see progress.

Pat Seymour said it was not as though nothing had happened. People in the community had worked hard in recent years.

Amber Dunn wanted to give Tourism Eastland some certainty of where it was going from here.

Brian Wilson said this had been talked about as long ago as 2010. In the end, the council had to trust Activate Tairawhiti to use the money and do the best for the region. ECT was actually spending more on economic development than the council.

“Let’s move ahead with this, nine years has been too long,” he said.

Shannon Dowsing said the council needed to be stricter in its contract negotiations.

Larry Foster said the council had to move on. There were huge investment opportunities that should be pulled in.

Mayor Meng Foon said if the council wanted the district to move forward it should not constrain where the organisation got its funding from. The organisation might come up with something fantastic.

  • A Gisborne Herald preview about the amalgamation had some incorrect information. The article in Wednesday’s paper detailed information from a 2013 report that was incorrectly attached to the meeting agenda.

More on the amalgamation in tomorrow's Herald.



COLLABORATING with Tourism Eastland will be a condition of a three-year contract that will put all economic development under the control of Activate Tairawhiti.

Gisborne District Council staff have been instructed to negotiate a $545,000 contract with Activate Tairawhiti that will include economic development, tourism and regional marketing.

That was the outcome of a protracted discussion yesterday in which district councillors spent time struggling to come up with a satisfactory resolution.

Councillors were anxious that the negotiations for an amalgamation between Activate Tairawhiti, the economic development unit funded by it and the Eastland Community Trust, Tourism Eastland and Heart of Gisborne should not be allowed to drag on further.

Before their debate they had heard last-minute presentations from Activate Tairawhiti chairman John Rae and Tourism Eastland’s David Sly and life member Penny Shaw.

An original resolution from Rehette Stoltz was withdrawn and after wrestling further the council finally adopted one suggested by staff.

Mrs Stoltz said this was an opportunity to move this situation forward. It would not be possible to please everybody but she proposed adding a phrase to the recommendation that the two parties collaborate.

GDC chief executive Judy Campbell said the original proposal was put on the basis of a single entity made up of Tourism Eastland, Activate Tairawhiti and Heart of Gisborne.

During that original process three years ago, councillors were lobbied about the merge, as they had been today.
The original recommendation to the council caused staff some concern in terms of the best use of ratepayer funds.
Later, the wording was tightened to include the word amalgamate.

A messy process

The process had been a messy one. Staff had facilitated a number of meetings where everybody agreed it was a good idea to amalgamate and said leave it to us. But on each occasion they had come back after months and said there had been no agreement.

Three more years had passed with the money going out in two directions without the benefit of a single voice and direction.

The staff recommendation was that whatever they did there should be some firm milestones because otherwise it was likely to drag out for years.

“We simply encourage you to have the courage of your convictions and do whatever you think is the right thing,” said Mrs Campbell.

Mrs Stoltz said it was not her intention for this to come back to the council again in a few months. She wanted to see progress.

Pat Seymour said it was not as though nothing had happened. People in the community had worked hard in recent years.

Amber Dunn wanted to give Tourism Eastland some certainty of where it was going from here.

Brian Wilson said this had been talked about as long ago as 2010. In the end, the council had to trust Activate Tairawhiti to use the money and do the best for the region. ECT was actually spending more on economic development than the council.

“Let’s move ahead with this, nine years has been too long,” he said.

Shannon Dowsing said the council needed to be stricter in its contract negotiations.

Larry Foster said the council had to move on. There were huge investment opportunities that should be pulled in.

Mayor Meng Foon said if the council wanted the district to move forward it should not constrain where the organisation got its funding from. The organisation might come up with something fantastic.

  • A Gisborne Herald preview about the amalgamation had some incorrect information. The article in Wednesday’s paper detailed information from a 2013 report that was incorrectly attached to the meeting agenda.

More on the amalgamation in tomorrow's Herald.



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