Mayor to get on his soapbox

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan is hoping for fruitful discussions at this year’s Soapbox Sessions as he travels the district to field public praise and criticism.

This is the 10th year the tour will take place, and Mr Cadogan said previous sessions with the community had taught him to be prepared for anything.

‘‘We’ve had some interesting times on the soapbox,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ll certainly be coming to it with a convivial manner but we’ll see what happens.’’

He said it was a chance for ratepayers to come and ‘‘air their views’’ and for him and councillors to ‘‘get a gauge on the issues of importance’’.

The idea for the community engagement sessions came from the ‘‘original ‘stand on a street corner and give it your best’ from the 1930s’’.

‘‘It’s normal for me to talk, so it’ll be a good opportunity for me to listen for once.’’
The mayor said he was ready to receive negative feedback.

‘‘I also don’t want people to think they can only come and ask the nice questions.

‘‘If I’m just constantly being hammered . . . that’s a sign it’s time to change my thinking.

‘‘We get the most out of it if we have an honest discussion.’’

Mr Cadogan said at a time of ‘‘great change for the district’’ it was important to make sure the council’s actions reflected the wishes of the people.

‘‘In recent years we have been fortunate to have benefited from favourable economic conditions, but that could change and become a point of discussion.
‘‘We’re heading into an annual plan [consultation] and that’s what this is all about.’’
He said what he saw as the past few years’ successes were based off focusing on core services, while also addressing ‘‘those wider needs of the district’’.

‘‘In recent years we’ve gone from 50 projects, to about 200 projects, and we’re looking at $32 million, $27 million of which will go towards either roading or the three waters [drinking water, wastewater and stormwater].’’

The Soapbox Sessions would endeavour to travel to as many parts of the district as limitations allowed.

They will run from March 20-22. ★ The Soapbox Sessions’ locations and times are listed inside in the classified pages. ++