“It is time for change”

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By CRIS JOHNSTON
Long-time Cromwell Community Board member, deputy chairwoman Helen Hucklebridge, has just one more meeting to attend this week before her 15-year term on the local body comes to end.

“I have no reservations deciding not to stand for election this year – it is time for change.”

“I have absolutely enjoyed the past 15 years though,” Mrs Hucklebridge, who has filled the deputy spot for the past four terms, said.

A desire to represent the community ran in the family as her husband Neville was on the Cromwell borough council before local body amalgamation.

“We had been in business and when I first decided to stand I just thought it was time for me to offer something back to our community,” she said.

Being able to represent the whole community, rather than small groups, was important, along with listening to other people’s viewpoints around the board table.

“I learnt quite quickly you didn’t go into meetings with preconceived ideas.

“The community board is a place of differing viewpoints – it’s all about negotiation and being able to get behind decisions that have the majority vote without any hard feelings.

“It’s all about debate, negotiation, compromise and coming to the best decision.”

The mother of two and grandmother of four, Mrs Hucklebridge said she was “very against” bringing gender into the election process.

“You should be elected for who you are, not what you are, whether that be male, female, young or old – gender makes no difference whatsoever, you just need to have the best possible people around that table.”

She believed the six people vying for the board’s four positions in Saturday’s election were a good cross-section of the community.

A regret was the delay in the upgrade of Memorial Hall that she had spent “many hours” working on.

“It needs to move on. You can’t keep putting it off,” Mrs Hucklebridge said.

Cromwell was facing challenges such as worker accommodation and the cost of rates.

“People have to be able to afford to live here.”

While it was positive to see her hometown expanding, it was important to “keep it special”.

“Around New Zealand lots of towns Cromwell’s size are just names on a map – we are lucky to have been given the opportunity to grow.

However, she does not support suggestions the Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes districts should amalgamate.

“Bigger is not always better.”

So what would “retirement” bring?

“Well Neville and I are both active Lions members and we get a huge amount of satisfaction from our involvement. We also both enjoy gardening and reading, so it will be nice to be able to enjoy some time.”