Former Kāpiti Chamber Chair Slams new Economic Development Leadership

Former Chair of the Kāpiti Coast Chamber, Liz Koh, has resigned from the KCDC Economic Development Leadership Group (EDLG) citing major differences of opinion between herself and EDLG Chair, David Webber.

Ms Koh says investing in economic development in Kāpiti is essential but it is very important that spending is about producing outcomes and not just more reports. “The vast majority of business owners in Kāpiti are also residential ratepayers so getting value for money is crucial.”

Ms Koh says Webber was appointed as Independent Chair in January this year to lead a new team to follow on from the work of a transitional group of community stakeholders who had been brought together by KCDC to recommend an Economic Development Strategy for Kāpiti to feed into the Long Term Plan. Ms Koh was nominated by the Chamber to represent its views on the new team.

“The transitional group worked hard to gain approval from KCDC for the appointment of an Independent Chair to facilitate the process of implementing the Economic Development Strategy” says Koh. “The two most urgent pieces of work to be done are to progress the Kāpiti Island Gateway project and to position Kāpiti as a great place to visit and to set up a business. These projects have been on the top of the priority list since at least March, 2015 and progress was initially delayed while funding and staff resources were secured. Instead of maintaining the focus and getting things done, the new Chair has diverted the team onto the construction of an elaborate economic development framework which neither the ELDG nor KCDC has the resources to implement. We are in danger of this turning into yet another KCDC failure where many words are written and spoken but nothing is done” says Koh.

Koh cites Webber’s autocratic leadership style as part of the problem. “Of two staff assigned to work with the EDLG, one has resigned due to Webber’s leadership style, and the other has been diverted to other work in KCDC due to a lack of output from the EDLG” says Koh. “It is vitally important that we invest in economic development, but this wasteful use of resources, not only of staff but the volunteers who give up their time to be part of the EDLG, will only give grist to the mill for those who want to see Council spending in this area cut.”

In resigning from the EDLG, Koh has also resigned from the Chamber Board and says her views are personal rather than representative of the Chamber. “Something needs to be done about leadership of the EDLG before another year passes and nothing is achieved” says Koh.