Water, rates, main street and commercial development, Tourism and Economic development
I decided to stand for Mayor of the Hastings District Council in the up-coming by-election because we have so many issues that need to be addressed. There are Councillors who have been there for over 20 years and while I respect experience, if you cant get the job done in two terms, you need to move over and let someone else make it happen. Amazing that all these ‘great ideas’ come from sitting Councillors, you have to wonder why they didnt do something sooner!
I have been campaigning for about 4 weeks and Water, Water, Water -it’s still the major issue. Havelock North poisoning, Chlorine in water, irrigation, accessing clean drinking water, mismanagement of the crisis keep on coming up time and time again. I believe it’s a reflection of mismanagement. If this was private enterprise, heads would roll. Someone should take responsibility but instead, like a lot of weak-kneed bureaucrats, everyone ran for cover and pointed the finger at the rural community. Not good enough.
Recently a newspaper article reported that to date between $12 and $14 million had been spent and still the ratepayers are having chlorine tainted water inflicted on them while international bottling companies export our pristine resource.
I agree we must protect the waterways from agricultural run-off but measures should have been put in place to ensure the drinking water remained safe. It’s all very well to have council blame the farming community but we need a strong agricultural and horticultural sector to sustain our local economy.
The Water Conservation Order is the latest in the water issues and if allowed to proceed will decimate our horticultural industry and all the downstream businesses. It is absurd that this sort of bureaucratic nonsense takes so much of our energy when our priority should be to grow a vibrant economy.
It’s all about balance – putting protective measures in place and at the same time supporting and encouraging growth in the rural sector. The Ruataniwha dam could have been built in a manner to protect the environment, provide a vital resource to the horticulture and agriculture sectors and at the same time provide valuable wetlands for environmental protection. If we are clever and take sound advice from the experts, the dam could have been win-win for farming and the environment. It is clear however that the wider community of ratepayers did not see it as a financial responsibility of council. If it is to be revisited as a private/public partnership, then that should go to a plebiscite and let the ratepayers decide.
I’m a passionate supporter of the Arts and avid supporter of the Hawkes Bay Opera House as it’s a national treasure and therefore it deserves greater significant funding from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. If we are to create a vibrant, living, cultural precinct in the centre of the city, the Opera House needs to be affordable and accessible for the community. When the Christchurch Cathedral gets tens of millions of dollars from the taxpayer, then the ratepayers of Hastings deserve more central government funding.
That really leads us to the need to be proactive in the revitalisation of the centre city area. It’s great that businesses such as HB Today relocated onto the main street but we need more commercial activity to support the businesses that exist on the ‘strip shopping centre’. The bigger stores are gathering together by Warehouse and Mitre10 and great that Bunnings redeveloped the old Warehouse site. Now we need to encourage boutique shopping in Heretaunga Street. We can seek advice of experts in precinct revitalisation on how to breathe life back into Hastings Main Street. There are some great suggestions out there, but it time to stop talking and planning and get some action to support main street businesses.
I was totally opposed to forced amalgamation and still am. We should not let it distract the council from focusing on the real issues.
The rate payers sent a clear message to politicians that we don’t want amalgamation and if the small councils in the region want to join with Hastings then let them make that decision – after all we live in a democracy and ratepayers must determine their own destiny.
Rates are the big issue and always will be. If the ratepayers want a level of service that demands higher rates, then they must make that decision thorough a consultative process. I believe that at the very least, the level of rating should stay within the annual rate of inflation however, I do not think it is unrealistic to plan for a reduction in rates. If we don’t try and address this issue, then they will continue to rise.
I’m a tourism guru from way back. I’ve had 30 years of extensive marketing and management experience across New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific. There is a huge opportunity to see growth in the tourism sector for Hawkes Bay and particularly Hastings. HDC should support tourism marketing campaigns to see growth in that sector – it leads to job creations, buoyant economies (including retail) and more importantly provides an opportunity to see more employment for our youth keeping them home here in the bay. Napier has stolen the march on Hastings and we need to support those industries and opportunities that will bring the visitors flooding into our district.
Some may say that Napier has the majority of attractions for the visitors to Hawkes Bay but when you look at the top six attractions listed in the Lonely Planet guide, the top 5 are in Hastings District!
For that reason I support continued managed funding for iconic events such as Horse of the Year. It provides jobs, is a huge boost to the economy and can continue to grow. It’s all about weighing up the return on the investment and while there are some management questions need to be answered we can’t risk seeing the event slip lost to our region.
What do I bring to Mayoralty? A sharp mind, a ready wit, lateral thinking and dynamic thinking from a wise old head. I use critical judgment in my decision making and I will speak my mind in protection of the ratepayers rights.
I bring a wealth of experience from living and working in a rural environment, decision-making in the corporate world in large cities of NZ and Australia , cultural sensitivity having responsibility for tourism development for a pacific Island nation and been down and dirty on the factory floor.
Its time for transformational change – its about the future not the past and the truth is ….. the ratepayers deserve better!