Voting papers returned as of 6:32p Thursday the 30th:

  • Hastings District: 25.47% (ranging from 19.83% in Flaxmere to 31.94% in Havelock North)
  • Napier: 25.00%
  • Central Hawke’s Bay: 33.15%

More detail here.

Innovative approach to Bay’s infrastructure

On Wednesday I issued the following media release, calling for a fresh approach to planning and managing the core infrastructure of Hawke’s Bay …

Media Release from Tom Belford
Candidate, HB Regional Council
29 September 2010

Today I am proposing for public debate a new approach to planning and managing Hawke’s Bay’s significant infrastructure requirements.

For the Bay to grow and prosper, we must have reliable, state of the art, cost-effective, and measurable delivery of these vital services – electricity, high-speed internet access, natural gas, and water (including environmentally sound treatment and disposal of wastewater and stormwater).

The physical delivery of these services should be consolidated in one set of skilled hands, more efficiently using the physical rights-of-way and assets that are needed to reach homes, businesses and farms. For example, available now are ‘compartmentalized’ water pipes through which fibre cables, electrical lines and gas lines can also be fed.

It makes sense to plan, install, operate, monitor, maintain and rate for this infrastructure as an integrated service. I believe significant efficiencies could be achieved with respect to consenting, operating, customer service, and cost, all benefiting the end consumer or user. Just one example: less digging up of roads and properties!

My candidate for managing this integrated infrastructure would be Unison, which already delivers our electricity and broadband fibre. No one in the region has more hands-on experience or reach when it comes to managing “hard” assets, dealing with the associated consenting and logistical issues, understanding and capitalizing upon technology developments (including “smart” grid management), and meeting rigorous financial performance standards.

I would rather see Unison managing the region’s infrastructure than a collection of amateur local body councillors and non-cooperating council engineers.

Given that Unison is owned by the HB Power Consumers’ Trust (that is, we the public), we in the Bay can have the best of two worlds – reliance on the technical and business expertise of Unison as a commercial operation, coupled with public ownership of our entire infrastructure system.

As I see it, this proposal ticks the two main boxes – it is sensible from a technical and operating standpoint, and, by maintaining public ownership of our core infrastructure, it is politically appealing. The latter is key as we hear rumblings from Wellington of privatization of our water systems.

I look forward to the comments of other candidates, as well as principals of Unison, our local Councils, and the Power Consumers’ Trust.

Ends

Hawke’s Bay Today pursued my proposal with candidates and Unison, and published this article in today’s edition.

I’m pleased to see that Unison comments that my proposal is worthy of exploration. Says Unison Chairman Kevin Atkinson: “As we roll out smart metering for electricity there is no reason why the same technology can not be applied to other core services including water and gas.  There is the technology out there to do this. We welcome positive and constructive discussions with all councils if they were interested in looking at the potential for an integrated approach that Mr Belford is suggesting.” [See Unison’s full statement here.]

Some Regional Council candidates appear open to exploring the proposition; others are not.

Regardless of the election outcome, I will pursue this concept because I believe it could be a cornerstone of our region actually functioning effectively, with consumer and ratepayer benefits, as a region.

Tom Belford

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