Site Meter

Friday, April 28, 2017

Environment Southland councillor sparks up after being shut down - The Southland Times

Councillor Guyton in the news :-)

Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton has been shut down from speaking about a damning water quality report at a council meeting.

Councillors instead decided to speak about the issue at a closed workshop in which the public and media will not be invited.

Robert Guyton wanted to talk about a Ministry of Environment Report released on Thursday which says New Zealand's lakes and rivers are coming under increasing pressure for reasons including land use.

The report was tabled at an Environment Southland committee meeting and Guyton noted the "strident" media coverage it had received that day, including calls from some quarters for an immediate reduction in cow numbers.

However, Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said the issue would be better spoken about in a council workshop, with Cr Lloyd McCallum agreeing.

Guyton was not happy.

"I am rather puzzled why we aren't allowed to speak about it now," he said.

"We seem to be burying it in a workshop. What's the purpose of this meeting," he asked.

Phillips said the report was tabled at the meeting as a "heads up" for councillors and the item was not on the agenda.

He said it was appropriate to have a "more considered" discussion about the issue at a later date.

Cr Ross Cockburn, the committee meeting chairman, also said it was more appropriate to have it in a workshop at a later date, but Guyton voiced his opposition.

After the meeting, Guyton said he believed the water quality report should have been spoken about by councillors in the public forum so the public knew where the councillors stood.

"To shove it into a workshop which is public excluded, I think is wrong."

"Southland people would like to know what their elected members are thinking on this issue," Guyton said.

"If they are only getting the sanitised version they shouldn't feel confident they are being well represented."

Many of the Environment Southland councillors were farmers "and it would be difficult for them to be critical in the same way I can", Guyton said.

Workshops were "good things", he said, but he believed they should be open to the media.

Democratic councils should be able to discuss matters in a free and open fashion, he said.

He did not believe Environment Southland was being purposely secretive by having its many workshops away from the public gaze, "but that's the result".

There had been pressure from some councillors in the past to open council workshops to the public but the majority of councillors had opposed it, he said.

Phillips, also speaking after the meeting, said he didn't have the "technical people" to discuss the report at the meeting.

"It was just a heads up [for councillors] and I think Robert had a slightly different view ... everyone else was comfortable with what I was saying."

Councillors could have continued discussing the issue if they wanted to, Phillips said.

Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell, also speaking after the meeting, said councillors had not read the national water quality report prior to the meeting so did not know its contents.

They needed the facts before having an intelligent debate on the issue in the public forum.

A workshop was ideal for councillors to get their heads around an issue and be free and frank with their views, "but there should also be a second step where we have a discussion in public", Horrell said.

He agreed that the public needed to know what councillors were thinking about.

In response to Guyton saying farmers around the council table would find it difficult to be critical on water quality issues, Horrell said all the councillors had sworn an oath to do their best for Southland and they knew they had to improve water quality for future generations.


Pauline McIntosh said...

Well done Robert for trying to bring the issue forward in a public forum. Is Lyndall doing anything to support you as she does not come from any farming background , and she did public say pre election as se is concerned as to Southlands water pollution

The Field of Gold said...

Siily old Robert for thinking that Environment Southland was about the environment. And silly to think that a publicly elected organisation would actually have inconvenient conversation where the public could see. Doesn't he understand political management and manipulation of the public. Really Robert, what were you thinking ?

robertguyton said...

Thanks, Pauline. Lyndal's thoughts were perhaps on other things that day, what with Darren's announcement and all. This link on the issue might interest you :-)

robertguyton said...

Hi Field of Gold; your *TIC questions are good ones. I'll ponder on them overnight.
*Tongue in cheek

Pauline McIntosh said...

Thanks Robert yes I heard all about this on TV One pathetic history is repeating itself....overseas ownership of our land in the 19th/20th century nearly
bankrupt NZ economy was an interfering Govt that stopped this and enticed the overseas owners to sell up and get out of NZ ...interesting it was this action by the then Liberal Govt ( under Seddons leadership ) that Bill English Family most likely were able to buy their Dipton farm. Keep up the good work on ES ....I didn't stand again as I knew wit Lyndal and Eric Roy I wouldn't have a show etc

Philip Todd said...

The most important issue facing our region is water quality. And presently every new report coming out is worse than the last one.
A person doing some studies on water around Invercargill was told to bench mark results on quality in and quality out while the water flows though the city. Nothing to do with any accepted standard.
Apparently in her mind no one is looking at how to address cleaning up water flows with reed beds and other natural means.
And even more startling is that the River Thames is now safer to swim in than many NZ rivers. Having looked into the murk of the Thames I find that comparison shocking. Its not cleaner but it is safer.

robertguyton said...

The newly-formed water action group (contact Dave Kennedy) might be able to make views such as yours more audible to the public, Philip. A lot of noise will be required to be heard over the sound of the white wash and spin cycle industry is employing for the sake of business as usual.

Pete said...

Well done for at least reading the report and seeking to discuss it further. That your councillor colleagues have apparently not read such an important report is a poor reflection on their intellectual connection to the task. Surely the comment they have not read it could not be correct?

robertguyton said...

There have been several 'water quality' reports released lately, Pete and even reading the commentaries about those is necessary in order to be an informed councillor, I'd have thought. I'd asked for the NZ Herald article about the report to be printed off and circulated earlier in the day, but that didn't happen, so I wasn't too accommodating when they claimed ignorance of the issue.

Bioneer said...

Cat amongst the pigeons. Three thumbs up from me.