What is Lawrence Yule Playing At?

Local Government NZ Chairman Lawrence Yule went on the bludge trying to get government to give Local Government new ways of raising revenue.

He got soundly thumped by the Prime Minister who is politically astute enough to realise that voters are seriously pissed off with the never ending rates rises councils impose on them.

When you start following the news in Hastings, where Yule is mayor, you start to understand why he needs more revenue. First up he spent millions on the Opera House, when everyone knows the NZ public don?t want to see the opera. Unfortunately for Lawrence he didn’t work out that the Opera House was not up to earthquake specs, so it is now closed with ugly fences around it preventing entry.

Sources in the Hawkes Bay property industry say that fixing the Opera House is going to cost between $5 and $10m that the ratepayers of Hastings don?t really have. So I?wonder why Yule is hell bent on building another vanity project, the Civic Square, pissing away another $7m of ratepayers money on something that no one really wants.

Typical of local government ratbags Yule is excluding the public on decisions about the civic square, and some of his councillors are up in arms about it.

Hastings District Council has been accused of “playing secret squirrel” with ratepayers’ money after a meeting about a planned Civic Square upgrade was held behind closed doors.

Councillor Simon Nixon said he was opposed to the public being excluded from yesterday’s council meeting. ??

“With Civic Square, I just felt that we are talking spending, potentially about $12 million, of which a large chunk is going to be funded by the ratepayers. To be discussing that, outside the public limelight, I can’t live with that. I thought, no, this is just fundamentally wrong, with such a large amount of money.”

Yes Cr Nixon, it is a lot of money, especially as you point out Yule has to find a big pile of money to fix his early vanity project, the Opera House.

He said given the potential cost of strengthening the Hawke’s Bay Opera House precinct, which was closed last year when engineers discovered it was not up to earthquake code, council should not be taking on projects which were “not essential”.

It looks like the long suffering ratepayers of the Hastings District are going to get nailed for two vanity projects instead of one.

Rates rises are going to be colossal.

It is little wonder that Stuart Nash is convincing Napier residents that they will have to pay for Hastings projects if Amalgamation goes ahead.