Opinion: More ICC Worries, As Wastenet Saga drags On

I was one of many ratepayers that gave a large sigh of relief when our council voted to not accept the preferred tenderer (now advised as Smart Environmental) and to maintain our Southland disAbility Enterprise for the next 12 months in the Recycling plant.

I emailed all of our elected officials before that vote to advise them that their preferred tender may be subject to an upcoming Herald paper expose that would not be good for ICC or WasteNet.

I suggested that they take care and do some further checking before voting. As usual, that fell on deaf ears.

So, where to from here. The WasteNet process is that the 3 councils have elected officials who now go into mediation (this is non binding). If that does not resolve the issues, arbitration follows which could have a binding outcome that could overturn our ICC vote.

There is an ICC Extraordinary meeting tomorrow at 4pm that is public excluded. This is to discuss the mediation criteria to apply the following week at mediation.
This is where I suspect that some of those who were defeated in that ratification vote are now attempting to undermine our vote.

Some Councillors sought tomorrow’s meeting but the Mayor was opposed.
While the Mayor is out of the city, 5 Councillors have now signed a requisition and handed it to the Chief Executive, to have the meeting while the Mayor is away. This would allow the Deputy Mayor, Rebecca Amundsen who voted previously for the preferred tender (against SdE), to chair the meeting and also have any casting vote in a split council.

I’ve also been advised that Councillors were advised last week by their ICC solicitor that, contrary to other advice, any arbitration cannot be binding.

I now suspect that the meeting to draft and accept the mediation criteria tomorrow, could be used to draft criteria that could allow the ICC mediation team to negotiate an outcome that may bind ICC.
If this were the case, it would be a wrought.
Two of those three Councillors (Amundsen and Crackett) have already voted for the preferred tender and therefore against SdE, so why would ICC allow them to be our negotiators?

But even more damaging is that Smart Environmental is currently under investigation by the Auditor General (the highest government auditor) following that Herald expose.
Why is any elected official still prepared to continue with this tender and mediation.

Surely, these are serious allegations against Smart and our officials should at the very least have the position of ‘we will do no more in this tender process until the Auditor Generals’ report is available, even if that means waiting a few months’.
So, what is the agenda that pushes them forward ? Is there some agenda against SdE ? Are they just upset at losing.

Well, we had a democratic vote and that should stand.
I suspect that a majority of those who originally voted for Smart are involved in this requisition.
This type of actively, while legal, smacks of a similar requisition that was activated but not lodged against the previous Deputy Mayor, Cr Ludlow.

It would be nice if you emailed those Councillors who voted for Smart (Crackett, Ludlow, Thomas, Amundsen, Esler) and Soper (who abstained) and ask if they are involved in this and what their motives are.

As a final point of transparency, I rung the PA to the ICC Chief Executive and sought the names of those 5 Councillors. I got a commitment that either the PA or CE would ring me back by 5pm today. Unfortunately, I got no return call.

Nobby Clark is standing for is spokesperson for the Invercargill Ratepayers Association and is also standing for Invercargill City Council election.

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