WSG replies to Mayor’s disappointing letter

On Monday, we received a fairly short (one page) letter in reply to a lengthy letter we wrote to Mayor Boult, outlining serious concerns about Wanaka airport, and asking for answers around numerous issues. Here is the response we’ve just sent the Mayor.

Jim Boult, Mayor, Queenstown Lakes District Council
QLDC, Queenstown (By email)

Wednesday 21st August 2019

Dear Mayor Boult

We’re very disappointed at the content of your letter dated 19th August. 

Wanaka Stakeholders Group Inc. will reply in a way which actually continues to deal with the issues rather than with your personal restatement of them.  If you do indeed think it is productive to “engage directly” let us make it clear that WSG couldn’t agree more. WSG will be writing again to all of the Council in very clear terms in the coming days. We will be requesting urgently direct “engagement” (i.e. clear answers from the council to specific questions and requests). WSG will need direct answers so that it can assess whether there is a way forward which is acceptable to all parties.

We don’t accept the implied criticism in your first paragraph. WSG has been communicating directly with the Council. It is also being scrupulous to ensure that those communications are made openly and publicly (publishing all communications on our website), offering full transparency to our members and the wider community at every step. We are not talking to you via the media, we are talking to you publicly. That is because this is quintessentially a matter of vital public interest. It is not one to be resolved by private conversations behind closed doors.

Neither do we understand your suggestion that somehow it is equally important that you, the Mayor, also listen to the voices and views of those who approach you directly (i.e. privately).  With respect, that is the very antithesis of a proper consultation process as required by the Local Government Act. You, the Mayor, are not personally required to be (and nor legally are you entitled to be) the arbiter of any of these issues.

Nor does it help matters for you to categorise and redefine the issue as one of “growth”. The core issue is, of course, what QLDC and QAC are doing or planning to do with what was, and still should be, a publicly owned strategic asset, and whether the law has been properly complied with by QLDC (and QAC) before making decisions about or dealing with that community asset.

The NPS on Urban Development, the national discussion on growth management and the matters which you say are to be consulted on next year in relation to your Spatial Planning are not the issue. Any public consultation in that context is irrelevant to the question of what public consultation was required to be undertaken by QLDC  before any decision was made and anything was done to hand over substantial control of Wanaka Airport and its future operation to QAC.

Yours sincerely
The Committee, Wanaka Stakeholders Group Incorporated*

Per [Signature]
Deputy Chair

Cc list: QLDC Councillors, CEO QLDC, Wanaka Community Board members, CEO QAC

* WSG membership as at 14:08 Wednesday 21/08/19 stands at 2,408 people.

You can read the letter to which we are responding here.

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