Welcome to 2010! With a month gone it is already promising to be another action packed and exciting year.
BayBuzz is a forum for debating local issues and although perspectives can differ (sometimes greatly from my own) democracy is built on public opinion.
2010 is the year of democracy and there will be a lot of attention on the local elections in the run up to October (and the elbowing for limelight, jousting over issues and the public colliding of personalities that inevitably go with it!).
In the interim however, Hastings District Council will address the day-to-day issues and get the work done. The challenges of recession are not entirely behind us and
it’s crucial Council decisions are prudent, yet progressive, to ensure our community prospers.
I will lead the Council into 2010 by focussing on the long-term goals for Hastings, as well as addressing the more immediate and contentious issues we face.
Council has undertaken a 5% efficiency target over three years and we are confident we are tracking towards that. We are maintaining very similar levels of service through innovative solutions and conservative spending.
Council took a giant leap towards improving customer service for Hastings people with the recent (very favourable) purchase of Heretaunga House. We can now begin the Customer Service Project in earnest, providing ratepayers with a one-stop-shop and a better level of service. I expect significant changes by the end of the year.
There is rapid progress on the Regional Sports Park and I am excited about the swelling community support for the project. The proposed velodrome will make the park even more of a destination, but it will take a coordinated effort from Hawke’s Bay people to win the bid to have it here. Hawke’s Bay has all the attributes to be the Cycling Capital of New Zealand, so I encourage all residents to support some of the exciting initiatives the Regional Sports Park trust will be launching soon to secure the velodrome.
Flaxmere has had its fair share of criticism recently, but efforts by Council and local leaders is heartening, with the recent success of Te Aranga Marae and the U-Turn Trust. The upgrade of Flaxmere is also on track and I look forward to seeing some positive changes in Flaxmere’s CBD.
Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and community group Walking on Water have been working closely to resolve issues around coastal erosion at Haumoana, Te Awanga and Clifton.
While the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and the HB Regional Council Plans are significant consenting hurdles, I am determined to help the community find an agreed position. The coast continues to erode and a decision needs to be made as to whether hard protection can work, gain consent and be funded. The other option of managed retreat equally has some significant issues.
The Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy will be completed around the middle of the year. This combined effort, with Napier City and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, is an exciting step toward a long-term regional plan.
I am firm in my belief that the region’s Councils should amalgamate and will develop my proposal. This is something that should be formally considered by HB people in 2011. I have been buoyed by the support I’ve received to have a reasoned and proper look at the Council structure for the region.
Not everybody will agree with my stance, but I have a strong view that we can do far better as a region if we have one common direction and set of decision-makers. Whatever is done has to be fair and I am very confident a strong and appealing solution can be found.
BayBuzz columnists have not always been complimentary of my stance on a number of issues. Obviously I disagree with a number of those points but I do accept the democratic right to challenge the status quo.
Those who think-outside-the-square or who want to see Hawke’s Bay prosper are the very people who should be sitting around the table after October.
I encourage people to put their names forward for election and, as someone who knows the ropes, I am happy to confidentially talk to anyone about the process.
Have a great year and I look forward to debating the issues with you.