As the year comes to a close, all manner of ‘loose ends’ have been left dangling.
Here are a few that occur to me. Perhaps you can add others.
In Hastings, the biggest question mark appears to be whether the sports park will be ‘rescued’ by getting the nod for a North Island velodrome. I say ‘rescued’ because the latest defense offered by the Sports Park Trust for failing fundraising is that prospects are holding back, waiting to see if a velodrome might bring sufficient ‘added value’ to make sponsorships worthwhile. If there is no velodrome, get ready, Hastings ratepayers, to open your wallets!
But there’s other stuff happening in the Hastings District.
A re-write of the District plan has been initiated. All sorts of ideas and agendas seem to be floating around rejuvenation of the Hastings CBD and ‘civic centre’. The folks in Haumoana/Te Awanga are still clamouring for a rescue of their (our?) coastline. The Council is capping the stinking Clive wastewater treatment plant, while questions still remain unanswered as to what sort of ‘biomass’ is being flushed into the Bay, with what ecological impact. And residents of Havelock North eagerly await the grand opening of their McDonald’s.
In Napier, there are never any problems.
Unless you count a desperate lawsuit by those desperately attached to Marineland. You have to begin asking yourself what is going on here? Is it truly a case of a bunch of ignorant fanatics, trapped in the 50’s, simply unable to come to grips with the wisdom of the Napier Council? Or has the Council actually botched what shouldn’t be the decision of the century for Napier?
A fight also appears to loom over the wacky ward/at-large system for electing Napier’s Councillors. A review of the system is statutorily required during the coming term. And while protesting that ‘local’ representation will suffer if amalgamation is pursued, the same complaining Councillors (and Mayor) will do their best to eliminate the genuine local representation that wards offer, if seriously embraced.
On a positive note, the revamp of the Museum will soon be underway … a delight and indulgence for the tiny number of HB residents who ever avail themselves of its riches.
Otherwise, Napier seems to be on cruise control. However, this does dismay some city leaders, chiefly from the private sector, who are quietly organizing to develop a new vision for Napier … with some fresh energy behind it.
At the Health Board, all eyes are on the re-elected members and what their agenda might be.
Arguably, the biggest piece of unfinished business remains the rehabilitation of Cranford. Despite the smiling faces of a new Governance Board and a new general manager happily collecting checks from a dutifully grateful community, the fact remains, the nature and quality of the service to be provided by Cranford Hospice is still to be defined. The very nurses who built Cranford’s legendary reputation for care are still fighting — via lawsuit — for redress, even while holding themselves available to redeploy at the ‘new’ Cranford. The plain fact is — if one compares CV by CV — those fired this past year are far better qualified than those hired to replace them. And the new Governance Board, installed back in July with the promise of re-connecting with the community, is yet to actually meet with the community!
At the DHB, the good news is that we have an elected Board and Chair to hold accountable again. Finances appear to be in order, and some promising advances are underway with respect to diabetes care, Maori health services and health care delivery in Wairoa. How the DHB plans to cope with a burgeoning senior population remains to be seen. And its public advocacy role — from educating the public about its fluoride choice (in Hastings) and its foul air and water — could be much strengthened. But at least with elected folks at the helm, we presumably have better recourse. I’m a fan of Chairman Kevin Atkinson, but that won’t stop me from nagging him on issues where I hear ongoing public concern.
Then there’s the Regional Council. One hardly knows where to begin.
Despite all the public announcements, stakeholders groups, water forums, etc, not a single river in Hawke’s Bay is getting any cleaner. Not a one!
The Central Hawke’s Bay Council has still not filed a resource consent committing itself to a new wastewater treatment scheme that would improve the Tukituki (you might recall that this was the major ‘achievement’ incumbents crowed about during the election). AFFCO continues to pump unconscionable amounts of pollutants into the Wairoa River while pursuing ‘mediation’. Dairy farmers are meandering through stakeholders meetings that might some year produce a clean-up plan for the Taharua/Mohaka. Even spray from the Clive River is a health hazard. And both the Ngaruroro River and Karamu Stream have their own problems. All of these situations will carry forward unresolved into the new year.
Meantime, it’s taken the Regional Council over six months to come up with even a ‘transitional’ plan for revamping Venture Hawke’s Bay and getting on with the task of better marketing the Bay. And the transitional plan would really be tested for another six months. Meanwhile, no one seems able to produce a ‘regional events strategy’ that was promised almost a year ago.
Various water harvesting ‘feasibility’ studies are underway, with stakeholders groups dutifully appointed (I’m on one of them) to bless the initiatives HBRC is already committed to. A woefully inadequate Regional Resource Management Plan must be re-written in the months ahead. And soon we’ll see the reprise of a ‘holding company’ designed to manage the big projects that are too vexing for the Regional Council itself.
Then if research nearing completion into the state of the Heretaunga Plains aquifer yields news as unsettling as the news from similar research just completed on the Ruataniwha aquifer — and I’m told it will — all hell will break loose.
Hey, but we do have some cool ‘future scenarios’ for the region, printed in expensive booklets that 99% of ratepayers will never see … or miss.
Do I sound grumpy as I contemplate the year-end for Hawke’s Bay in governance terms? Well, here’s your chance to lift my sights and tell me about all the good stuff I must be overlooking. Go ahead … refresh my hope!
I have made a new year’s pledge to be as constructive as possible. Maybe attending fewer Council sessions would help. After all, ignorance is bliss.
Best wishes for the new year!