10 Apr 2013

Protest leader calls for debt reduction group

10:58 am on 10 April 2013

The organiser of a protest against Westland District Council's budget blowout says an independent group needs to be set up to help the council reduce its debt.

Westland District Council's debt level stood at $17.1 million in June last year, and the council is proposing an 8% rates increase this year.

Anthea Keenan led a march by about 70 people to the council's offices in Hokitika on Tuesday.

Mrs Keenan says the debt is set to increase by another $5 million this year, which is why she wants a debt reduction group set up to work alongside council staff.

She believes the council's new chief executive will be open to the idea.

Westland mayor Maureen Pugh says the council's debt is not significant compared to other local authorities.

She says the debt was incurred because the council spent money on improving its assets.