We're buying a jetty

By Louisa

And so ends my blog hiatus with the exciting announcement that we finally have an agreement with the Council that will allow us to restore the Jetty.

My blog silence, like a ghost town with only the occasional tumbleweed blowing through, was because there was nothing tangible to tell.

It seemed so simple at first. We'd have a memorandum of understanding with the Council and all would be sweet. Simon wrote one, the rest of us admired the tome and made suggestions. Phil was thrilled to flag a few typos.

Once honed, we presented it to the Council's legal and operations staff. They liked the look of it too. The end was in sight, or so we thought.

Meanwhile, we'd been working on our fundraising strategy, communications plan, and various bits of paperwork that seemed like a good idea (incorporating the Trust, setting up a bank account, writing a value proposition that we are calling our 'case for support').

Most importantly of all, we sat down with several contractors who were experienced in working on marine structures to get an idea of what level of repair was needed to the jetty and how much the different options were likely to cost.

We went back to the Council staff to work out what happened next and how the Trust should choose the contractor. Hmmm, said the Council staff, that's something we usually do through our procurement process. And come to think of it, we'd have to be in charge of project management, communications, logistics, health and safety ...  

As a Council-owned asset, it became clear that it had to be a Council-run project using Council staff following Council processes. This left little scope for action or control of the project by the Trust, other than fundraising. And how easy was that going be if we were raising funds to pay to the Council to pay to the contractors to fix a Council asset?

The jetty sagged desolately as its future looked bleak (a storm took out one of its piles, so that helped give it the saggy effect).

The guys and I sat in the pub one Tuesday evening in late summer earlier this year and had a decision to make. Give up, or find another way.

There had to be another way. In one of the meetings with the Council, someone reasoned that if ownership was the problem, maybe there was a way the Council could transfer ownership. I think that someone was me, because I'm sure that a long time ago I saw something in the newspaper about someone selling something to someone else for $1, probably in a different country and in a different currency.

At mention of this, a light bulb illuminated in the eyes of Emma, the Council's legal representative. At first, she talked about leasing the jetty, but later realised that wouldn't solve the problem. Simon went back to meet with Emma again and the idea of a sale and purchase agreement was born.

Simon went back to the drawing board and this time came up with something a lot less tome-like. What we needed was clarity and all the key points covered. Again the Trust Board members admired Simon's handiwork and made suggestions. Again Phil found the typos.

Then it had to go to the Council's legal team. Then the operational team. Then it had to be approved by the Head of Parks. And a senior manager. And a finance manager. 

After that, it had to go to the Lyttelton / Mt Herbert Community Board to give their recommendation and then to the Council meeting for a vote.

We had planned to organise letters of support from local associations, but due to a particularly busy week at work and some confusion about how far through September we were (mentioning no names), this fell by the wayside. 

We also planned to give a deputation to the Council, only to discover when the agenda was published that we were supposed to apply for an appointment to make the deputation before the agenda was published. A reply to my frantic email explained that we'd need permission from the Mayor's office. That permission was granted the day before the Council meeting.

I hope I haven't lost you by now, dear reader, because it was all very nail-biting. I've been white-water rafting on the Zambezi River and that was only slightly more adrenaline-inducing. I'll restrain myself from suggesting fear of being eaten by crocodiles were a feature of both experiences.

The end of the story is given in the title of this blog post. The proposal sailed through the Community Board, who recommended it to the Council. After a short but sweet deputation voiced by Nick H (watch the video), the proposal went through the Council with minimum debate.

There were accolades and declarations of support, for which I have to thank Andrew Turner (our local Councillor), Pauline Cotter (Councillor for Shirley Papanui), and our Mayor Lianne Dalziel. Or "Madam Mayor" as Nick H likes to call her, having researched the proper way to address a mayor. In fact, the Mayor went so far as to say it was "the most exciting thing on our agenda today".

The agreement has yet to come into force. We haven't handed over the dollar yet. But we now have confidence that the Trust and community have the mandate to restore the jetty.

Let the games begin.