Menu ×

This section is where you can share your story and express your opinion with our viewers.

Cr Vinsen Responds to 'Terms Of Reference' Concerns
Published: 27 Jul 2016

Cr Vinsen Responds to 'Terms Of Reference' Concerns

I think that it is a mistake to take the published Terms of Reference too literally, at this early stage.

What was published was a briefing document from the CE to the meeting, and I am surprised and disappointed that it was sent out to Alan.

Mr Fell asked, prior to the meeting, for Terms of Reference comment from councillors to be submitted to him. Only three councillors did so.

I include my notes that I sent to the CE prior to the meeting (see below), and then spoke at length about at the meeting.

Although I advocated for a budget of $50,000 for the inquiry, the CE’s research convinced the majority of councillors that a budget of $100,000 would be necessary.

There are two key questions for Mr Domme to address – and I think that we should be rightly concerned if they are not addressed in depth. My focus now is to ensure that they are reported on.

1/   Did Council mismanagement of the old plant lead to it’s failure?

2/   Was the old plant salvageable – and what upgrade was required ?

Mr Domme will need to commission relevant technical advice to answer these questions. It cannot come from any professional that has been involved in the Cardno developed design or peer review. That is why a budget of $100,000 will be necessary.

The specifications for the plant will change dramatically now that the Talley group of companies have withdrawn from the Trade Waste Scheme. AFFCO, Land Meats , and Open Country are 60% of the organic load on the plant.

The answer to Question 2 “ Was the old plant salvageable “ must now be revisited in the light of that reduced load.

The $100,000 for the inquiry will look like a worthwhile spend if the answer is that a $41.2M new plant isn’t required now, and a minimum upgrade of the old plant is all that is necessary.


My Notes Submitted to CEO Prior to 'Terms Of Agreement' Document Being Finalised



  • The Councillors and staff at the WDC, together with the community they serve, have to find a way forward on the challenges facing them. 
  • To restore and build confidence in the WDC Governance and staff amongst the community of Wanganui
  • to tell the story of what happened
  • to draw out lessons for the WDC to learn from - we learn most from identifying our mistakes
  • public entities should be able to demonstrate what they are doing and why, when that is questioned.
  •  accountability is the ability to explain what is being done with public money, the decisions that are being made, and the reasons for them. 
  • It is what the Wanganui public , who are paying the bill, deserve


The inquiry should be addressed in three sections

  • Pre 2007      The Design phase
  • Post 2007  to Jan 2013   The Operation phase
  • Post Jan 2013 to date      The Upgrade phase

Questions asked by the community of Wanganui

Pre 2007 The Design Stage

I  do not believe that this section needs to be extensive. We can accept that the design was faulty and focus on accountability.

It shall include ( but should not to be  limited to) answers to the following questions:

  • Who was involved, and what was  the decisionmaking process, starting from the initial design of the plant in 2003 to the commissioning of the plant in 2007 ?
  • Was there any fault attributable to decisions made by either Council staff or by Councillors that contributed to the failure of the plant.

Post 2007 to Jan 2013    The Operation Phase

This phase is more extensive as it should answer the key question :

“Was the failure of the plant attributable in any way to the management of the plant by the WDC “

  • Who was involved, and what was  the decisionmaking process, starting from the commissioning of the plant in 2007 until Jan 2013
    •  did the Whanganui District Council, manage the plant in a satisfactory and professional manner, including taking all necessary advice from the plant designer and implementing their recommendations according to the commissioning documentation.
    •  What consultation took place with MWH on operational issues after the commissioning of the plant, and what advice was received from MWH on solving the odour and operational issues relating to the plant after 2007 up until the serious malfunction of the plant that occurred in late 2012.

Post Jan 2013 to date

This stage is the most extensive

Key question : “Have all the decisions made by staff and councillors since Jan 2013 been robust,  based on sound professional advice, and  followed proper process”

  • Who was involved, and what was  the decisionmaking process, starting from the serious odour issues that occurred in Jan 2013  to date
    • Was the MWH designed plant salvageable ? All professional evidence that supported Council’s decision in deciding it wasn’t, including all reports that are currently confidential, are to be publically released.
    • Was advice sought from the plant designer, MWH, on how to  fix the serious odour issues that were occurring, and was this advice implemented.
    • Why were  Better Technical Options commissioned in 2011 to recommend  short term and long term  options to address the serious odour issues and non compliance with the Resource Consent.
    •  Were the short term recommendations in the BTO Nov 2011 report implemented and why were the long term recommendations not presented to Council.
    • Were the decisions made by the WDC staff and councillors to manage the serious odour issues over  summer 12/13 robust and based on sound professional advice.
    • What consultation with the Trade Waste Industries took place to establish their requirements and load, and was this adequate.
    • What consideration did CardnoBTO give to an alternative trade waste treatment scheme, and why was it not considered viable
    • What consideration did CardnoBTO give to other alternative options for treatment, and why were they not considered viable.

I see no need to include the design of the Cardno plant in the review, nor the peer review of that design..

By Commenting Below you agree to the Terms and Conditions found here

Contact us