NZ Herald Wednesday, September 26, 2001                             Back

Mayor blocks moves to monitor water company.

In the lead-up to the local body polls we look at controversies dividing communities.

Papakura Mayor David Buist has used his casting vote to stop the council keeping a closer eye on United Water, the private company that runs the local water services.

Five councillors wanted it made perfectly clear in the strategic plan that the council would monitor the performance of the Anglo-French consortium, which has a franchise to operate Papakura's water and wastewater services for up to 50 years.

They came armed with a report from the Auditor-General, released in June, expressing concerns about the availability of monitoring information and the need for the council to play its part in the Franchise Agreement.

The Auditor-General, who criticised the arrangements for managing and monitoring United Water in a 1998 report, said the council still needed to establish a mechanism for identifying and managing poor or non-performance.

Mr Buist said yesterday that the powers to keep an eye on United Water were enshrined in the franchise agreement. He said it was not a governance role but a job for management, using a firm of consultants.

Councillors only needed to know the job was being done properly, he said,

Mr Buist said that since the last report from the Auditor-General, consultants Montgomery Watson had prepared an audit on United Water, the Department of Health had given the local water an AA rating; and the councils monitoring committee had been abandoned and water matters were now dealt with by the full council.

The five councillors to vote for the status quo were Mayor Buist* (seeking re-election), Deputy Mayor Vivian Pollock, Vicky Adin*, Allan Bell, Nancy Hawks. The five councillors who wanted to beef up monitoring were: Glenn Archibald*, Steve Bayliss*, Lynette Blackbourn*, Katrina Piggott*, Ross Vickery*.