Project Description

Paula Southgate

Paula was elected to the Hamilton City Council as an East ward councillor in 2016

Extra roles and responsibilities

Chair of the Community, Services and Environment committee.  Elected member of the Local Government NZ Policy Advisory Committee.  Chair of the Local Government conference organising committee.  The council elected Trustee for The Peak recreation centre in Rototuna.  Prior to being elected to the Hamilton City Council she was on the Waikato Regional Council for 15 years.

Running as:

If there was one thing you could change about Council, what is it and why is it important?
The way we engage and work with our people and our communities including business, senior, youth, ethnic and the disability sector. I want to create a vibrant and respectful culture at a governance level, that builds 12 wonderful and passionate city leaders, treats the public with respect, listens and works with others for best results.

What were your priorities for the current term? What achievements are you proud of and why?
My vision was to create a strong, resilient and vibrant city. A city that supports and invests in people to improve the everyday lives of ALL Hamiltonians. A city where our people, our economy, and our environment thrive. I wanted to improve public engagement and make sure our community spaces and places were properly cared for. I also understood the need for housing and worked hard to create growth opportunities that were affordable, and to keep Council spending in check. I am proud of my work to push for better care of existing assets. I pushed to get Waterworld renewed and repaired in 2016. It had been in an appalling state. I am proud of the improvements to the Central Library. I’m proud of the extra funding I achieved for community grants because community groups and volunteers add so much value to our city. Without them we lose so much. Previously we were one of the lowest Council funders in NZ. I feel a strong sense of achievement for promoting a new way of consultation for the Rototuna Village Hub enabling community to lead in the development of their own places and spaces, and so getting better results. I am proud of getting funding to open Lake Waiwhakareke and improve the entrance to the Zoo. And of course I am pleased to see the Pacifica Hub move to the next stage and helping to save the iSite from closure. I have been a big advocate for Te Waka Regional Economic Development, HCBA, Innovation Park and continue to promote the need to protect industrial and commercial business land and opportunity. I spend a lot of time out in the community, at their gatherings and events and helping in anyway I could. I love my relationships with the many ethnic communities of Hamilton, youth and seniors, education providers and business. I do not just turn up on election year. I work hard to be accessible to people all of the time and help in anyway I can. I know I have worked hard and am proud of that. Finally, I am pleased with the relationships I have in Wellington and that I am asked to participate in policy advisory and other roles. I have formed many strong working relationship and friendships with Mayors, councillors, MP’s and Ministry officials across the country.

Have there been Council decisions in this term that you were particularly disappointed in and why?

Yes. In Politics you win some and you lose some. You have to be adaptable and accept that you are there to question and debate, and at the end of the day you may have to accept democratic outcomes. I did not vote to buy the inner city properties at a time of all ready large rates increases. There are also issues that have been debated where I have doubts, such as our ability to truly create opportunity for affordable homes in a short time frame. One disappointment relates to public engagement. Some of our formal submission processes and, the Long Term Plan consultation, were nowhere near as user friendly as they could have been. Also, I feel strongly that online forms, 3 minute speaking rights at Council just do not hit the mark. We can, and must, do so much more, to encourage and collect the public voice and grab hold of and use their ideas. This applies to individuals, businesses and groups. I feel there have a been a few too many last minute surprises at Council and too little debate of time to understand them or hear from others. Finally, councillors must maintain a high standard of public behaviour, working alongside the their colleagues, staff and public in a respectful and engaged way, even if views differ.

If re-elected, what are your priorities?
Getting growth right! Strong financial governance! Quality Lifestyles! Grabbing and creating opportunities! We need affordable, quality housing, strong economic development and innovation, and we must have effective transport networks for people and business. We must maintain our city infrastructure and plan carefully for the future. We must partner to invest in activities that create the highest value to Hamiltonians. To have a strong future we must attract businesses to our city – and keep them here. Hamilton is well placed in the heart of the Waikato – with easy links to both Auckland and Tauranga – to reap the benefits of strong economic growth. Like other fast-growing cities, Hamilton continues to feel the effects of a housing shortage. The problem extends beyond the number of available housing: it is about providing affordable homes for first home buyers, families looking to upsize, renters, those with disabilities and retirees. We must urgently address today’s supply gap and the pressure for future population growth. We need to properly care for what we have such as our parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, libraries, community houses and river paths – not leave them to decay and decline. I want Hamilton to provide an excellent quality of life for our residents while protecting our special spaces and the natural environment that makes our city so unique. We can become the most livable and lovable city in NZ. This doesn’t mean spending large amounts of ratepayer money on huge legacy projects. I truly believe that small things can make a big impact for local communities. We need to make Hamilton be a ” host town not a ghost town’ to harness the benefits of tourism. We need to build on our special river-side developments, the Museum, the Zoo, Hamilton Gardens and our regional events such as the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival and Balloons over Waikato, Boon Street Art and more. We must complete the theatre, on time and within budget ( in a way that tackles public concern over accessibility and safety). Finally but most importantly: Hard questions must be asked time and time again to ensure activities are cost effective, resources are used well and Hamiltonians are getting value out of every dollar spent. Rates must be affordable, fair and most importantly, justifiable.

Candidate responses have been published verbatim from a Politics in the Tron survey sent to all incumbent councillors and the Mayor.