At Day 1 of the Hastings Council LTCCP hearings, advocates for more arts funding and for partnering with central government for more home insulation seemed to score early points with Councillors.

A number of submitters, including yours truly, called for more arts funding. In particular, submitters Jan Marie Cook, Judith Anderson and Jacob Scott focused on the Hastings City Art Gallery and the failure of Council to back the Gallery’s approved business plan with adequate implementation funds.

Reacting to an eloquent critique by Jacob Scott, who portrayed Council management as thwarting previous funding appeals, Councillor Henare O’Keefe thanked Scott for a “boot in the bum” … a sentiment Mayor Yule more or less seconded. Councillors Bradshaw, Burnside, Twigg and Bowers voiced varying degrees of sympathy with the arts advocates.

In response to written submissions, Council has already signaled a $47,000 “sweetener” to the Gallery’s 2009-10 budget, but as they say in artistic circles: “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

Earlier in the day, perhaps nudged by a chilly weekend, Councillors also seemed eager to jump aboard Government’s new home insulation scheme. Various submitters urged the Council to embrace this program, which will help underwrite installation of insulation in about 180,000 homes throughout New Zealand. A spokesman from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority noted that Wellington’s funding will go to the first districts to come forward as effective partners.

Mayor Yule was clear that he wanted Hastings to be one of those.

It was noted that Napier City Council didn’t seem too interested in home insulation. My own reading of Napier’s proposed LTCCP would confirm this — the most concern I can find is an almost off-hand reference to maybe improving the insulation of a few retirement flats. I don’t think this is what John Key and his Green partners have in mind!

I can think of three possible explanations for Napier’s disinterest in insulation:

1) Cruise ship tourists don’t visit un-insulated homes, and come in the warm weather anyway; and/or,

2) Refurbishing Marineland will consume all of Napier’s discretionary funds; and/or,

3) Mayor Arnott has been listening too much to her buddy, Regional Councillor Christine Scott, who bridles at the mere suggestion that there might be cold homes in Napier (it seems hers is well-insulated, thank you).

So, if Hastings Councillors follow through, Hastings will be the early bird that gets the worm in this region.

Tom Belford

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