For two days now the Hastings Council has been pre-selling in HB Today its proposal to improve “customer service” by investing $4.7 million over the next two years or so in HDC building alterations, a call centre and relevant software systems to manage customer relationships.

Whatever the merits of this proposal, and there are some, it’s a bit unseemly for Council to be pre-selling this initiative well before the LTCCP hits the streets for public consultation. Obviously, there’s some concern at HDC that the public won’t swallow this “customer service” initiative.

Meanwhile, where is the Hastings Council’s “customer service” when residents in Bridge Pa can go without sanitary water for weeks … some since Christmas?!

It’s both sad and infuriating to see one such resident say: “That Mr Yule, bless his heart, he sent someone out with a tank of water …”

What she should be shouting is: “Let Mayor Yule and his fellow Councillors drink out of a barrel and get their butts to the marae to shower and s**t for a few weeks, and see if that doesn’t improve customer service!”

What an abysmal failure of local government by HDC! You bet they need better “customer service!” But no amount of new building and software overhaul is going to compensate for a mindset that is so insulated or uncaring that it allows a situation like Bridge Pa to happen, then persist.

On Tuesday, the Hastings Councillors debated over an hour on if, where and how to fund some upgraded and/or new public toilets for shoppers in the Hastings CBD. A couple of hundred thousand dollars was involved. More time and more heat on that issue than on the $4.7 million for customer service. Friday they meet again. Maybe someone will propose busing Bridge Pa residents to the CBD so they can take advantage of this investment.

Then there’s the ever-helpful Regional Council staff, who true-to-form says, in effect: “Irrigation comes first. The peasants have got lousy shallow wells. They should just dig deeper ones, as we consent away more and more water, deluding ourselves that we have a limitless supply.”

OK, Regional Council, are they supposed to dig 25 meter wells, 100 meter wells … wait until the water levels fall below those too in a few years, and then be told … “Hey, just drill deeper?” In Hawke’s Bay, wine growers and other irrigators appear to have a god-given right to water; for everyone else, it’s “you’re hosed.”

When are these guys going to figure out that water is a problem? I sure hope Chairman Dick is taking the “total immersion” course in water issues … and I hope he confers more broadly than with the HBRC staff.

Tom Belford

P.S. Yesterday I reported that HDC plans to spend $2 million+ per year on marketing and advertising. How much will it spend on monitoring municipal water quality in the District? $19,000.

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2 Comments

  1. Just seen "World without Water" on the Doco Chanel. Should be required viewing for every Councilor in NZ. Look for repeats.

  2. The Hastings District Council and the Hawkes Bay Regional Council and its predecesor The Hawkes Bay Catchment Board are totally to blame for the water crisis that appears every summer here in Hawkes Bay!

    Farmers with council links have drained the reserve water In Central Hawkes Bay ;mainly Maori Lease land (WHICH WAS PREVIOUSLY A MASSIVE LAKE;DID YOU KNOW THAT SHIPS USED TO BE ABLE TO GO TO WAIPAWA).

    with this reserve buffer of water gone we are turning Hawkes Bays once summer Oasis status into a dessert and prone to the sorts of fires that have effected Victoria Australia recently.

    The international migration of birds has been destroyed here as their water habbitat is no longer in existance; who would think that local council decisions are of global importance!

    Wells and springs that have gone dry now provide direct accesss to Hawkes Bay Aquifers for drainings from horticultural pesticides and herbicides to dirrectly enter the drinking water for the who Hawkes Bay population; this in time will make the Fontera Melamine affair like a non event.

    The ramifications in my opinion are huge.

    Our export meat is likely to be rejected on the basis for contamination as stock water becomes more and more polluted.

    I make these statements from my expertise in the water quality and farming and biochemical areas of knowledge.

    My experience with the regional council is that their staff are totally ignornant of this type of knowledge and when I have tried to make my concerns noted their reponse is apathetic ;and in my opinion a total dereliction of the duty of care they are supposed to have.

    The cost of remedial action to make Hawkes Bay water suitable fo use as poatable water (as the contamination gets more severe) does not bear thinking about…..the one thing we learn able history is that we don't learn from history and I expect the council will again ignore my pleas.it will give me no pleasure to say to them as events will inevitably unfold …..I told you so!

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