The abrupt sacking of the Tauranga City Council has created major ructions in the local electoral system and more are likely to emerge.
The Council recently announced the official appointment of the four commissioners who will be taking over, for an – at this stage – undetermined period. They include chair Anne Tolley, and commissioners Bill Wasley. Stephen Selwood and Shadrach Rolleston.
Exactly how their role will evolve remains to be seen. But for Tauranga’s important property sector¸ leading specialists have moved aggressively to ensure access to the new commissioners.
Led by Scott Adams of Carrus Corporation, a group of around 50 or so leading property specialists has formed a new group, the Urban Task Force (UTF), created as an incorporated society.
When we went to print, UTF was due to meet with the commissioners in early March. Adams told the Bay of Plenty Business News that his understanding was that the commissioners’ mandate was to be cooperative.
Adams said he had not at this stage had contact with any other groups. However, it is understood representatives from various interests including the Smart Group entities, which in the past have played a large role in creating the current shape of Tauranga, would form groups to interact with the commissioners.
At a recent meeting at the University of Waikato – Tauranga, Adams led a group of 50 or so members of the new society and advised that it was set up to provide strong leadership, advocacy and positive change for the benefit of Tauranga.
Given the dire straits our city now finds itself in, Tauranga needs its own action group to provide leadership and change and deliver some results on the ground.”
– Scott Adams
“UTF is a group of Tauranga Property investors and developers who came together towards the end of 2020 with grave concerns for growth implementation for our city. We wanted to combine forces to collaborate and get runs on the board for our great city,” Adams told the meeting.
Departures a key factor
He noted that the departure of former Mayor Tenby Powell and the previous TCC members was also a key factor.
Although Powell was unpopular with many members of the outgoing council, he was generally favoured by a large number of property specialists as someone who wanted to get things done.
“The city badly needs leadership,” said Adams. “Commissioners have now been appointed and intend to engage early with this group.”
Adams noted that the group needed to make sure they were not just swapping one group of politicians for another.
Adams was somewhat dismissive of the recent contribution of Smart Growth as having largely become a “talk fest” over the years.
“The rooms are full of bureaucrats and strategic advisers with a bob each way,” he suggested, stressing that here was no real brief for the property private sector.
“We all agree I’m sure that there’s been enough talk – we need action,” he said.
Property Council changes
Adams noted that changes in the NZ Property Council, which had merged the Bay of Plenty and Waikato branches because of Covid-19 concerns, was another key factor in setting up the UTF.
“The Property Council is still an important voice, but the focus is now wider,” he said.
“Given the dire straits our city now finds itself in, Tauranga needs its own action group to provide leadership and change and deliver some results on the ground.”
Among the members of the society who took part in the meeting and will serve on the board, were experienced property specialists such as Simon Collins of Hobec Lawyers, Steve Cutfield from Classic Group, Morgan Jones from Veros, Buddy Mikaere, an historian and resource consent specialist, Scott McKenzie from PMG Funds, and Peter McCaw from Hawkins.
The purpose of the new society, said Adams, was to provide advocacy, leadership and positive change not just for local property developers and owners, but to create sustainable property for all living and working in the district.