Hamilton East Council Candidate Chris Rollitt says Garden Place Plan Shows Lack of Business Acumen

pic chris rollitt.jpg

Article published at Mediapa.co.nz

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPA

Hamilton East by-election candidate Chris Rollitt says plans for Garden Place, as well as other aspects of the new 10-year plan, need to be approached in a sensible, businesslike manner, to best serve the interests of Hamilton residents and ratepayers. 

“If you’re running a business and find you have an unsustainable level of debt, your accountant would advise you to grow your income and reduce your costs.  These are basic principles of business – and Council is supposed to run in a business-like fashion.”

Chris Rollitt has thrown his hat into the ring to fill the gap left by the death of Hamilton East ward councillor Philip Yeung. The by-election will be held on Saturday, 17 February 2018.

Mr Rollitt is a respected businessman with a heavy footprint in the Hamilton and Waikato community, having been involved in business and municipal circles for many years. Formerly the owner of the Cook Café & Bar in Hamilton East, Mr Rollitt now owns the Putaruru Hotel, is the co-chair of the Hamilton East Community Trust, is involved in the Hamilton East Village Business Association and is on the board of trustees at Marian School.

“The situation with Garden Place, as with the other aspects of the 10-year-plan, needs to be addressed much more realistically, “says Mr Rollitt. 

“When we’re talking about a period in time where we’re facing unprecedented rates increases, people do not want to see tokenism and wasted money.

Mr Rollitt does not believe money should be spent on redesigning Garden place. He says there are far more important things to be doing, like carrying on work with the destination playgrounds - “I don’t even know why there’s a debate about having playgrounds” - and getting the financial situation under control.

“I’d like to see Council continue with the projects we have in place, “he says, “and honour the promises it’s previously made.”

Mr Rollitt says one of the issues that should to be dealt with instead of renovating Garden Place, is the small but insidious problem of homelessness.

“Everyone knows homelessness is a problem.  If we do a refit on garden place, they’ll still be homeless, just in a nice, new set of surroundings.  We need to address this problem – why they’re homeless and what we can do to help them.  It’s a small group and we’d be better to invest a bit of money in fixing that side of it up, rather than new park benches for them to sleep on.

“There are some really good, hard working social agencies out there that rely on support from Hamilton City.  I’m sure those well-meaning and hard-working people must look at this plan and wonder why 20 million dollars is being spent on putting a new central city park in instead of helping people and addressing existing issues.”

The Hamilton City Council’s 2018-2028 10-year plan has been the focus of lively debate within council chambers as well as among the public, caused by topics such as the planned 15.5% rates increase in the first year.

The draft plan is available for viewing on the Council’s website and will go to public consultation in early 2018.

Mr Rollitt expects there will be strong public opposition to many aspects of the plan, based on the feedback he’s been receiving from the community, who agree that common sense business principles should take precedence over flamboyancy for the sake of change.

“What we’ve done as a council is acknowledged we’ve got a real debt problem and have decided to raise our income in a very harsh and unsustainable manner and spend a whole lot more on things we don’t need. 

“No accountant would endorse that.”