At the time of writing this we have had twelve consecutive days of no new confirmed Covid-19 cases and are eagerly awaiting the Prime Minister’s announcement about a potential move into Alert Level 1 in the very near future. Alert Level 1 will be, in essence, a return to normal with border measures remaining in place.

However many of us will be asking what is ‘normal’ in this different world we now find ourselves living in.

And a very different world it will continue to be for all of us locally, nationally and indeed internationally for some time yet, if not in fact forever. For me personally I spent many hours reflecting during the lockdown period over what was truly important to me, just as I am sure many others did. It provided us with an opportunity to reassess, reevaluate and ultimately reset, as individuals, households, businesses and yes, as a community.

It has certainly been a busy couple of months within Council and I would like to say a huge thank you to the council staff and councillors who have given their all over this period. Not only maintaining business as usual across our essential services, but also being at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. Inevitably there has been some delays in projects, however we have done all that we can to keep things moving along.

Within Council we are now working very hard on our Recovery plan, our Annual Plan, our District Plan and the early stages of our Long Term Plan. All of these will be created in partnership with our community and I am very excited about talking to you all about what the future of Napier looks like post COVID-19. It is your input which will define the priorities and guide the decision-making over the coming months. We cannot do it without you.

First off the rank will be the draft 2020/21 Annual Plan — coming out for consultation from mid-June, slightly later than usual due to the need to review this in light of COVID-19. Recognising that some of our community are facing tough times ahead, the plan includes a recovery package with a range of options to help businesses, community groups and residents to get through.

It can be hard to strike the right balance between paying attention to the big issues, ensuring we continue to deliver our services, and keeping it affordable for all … so I look forward to receiving your feedback and submissions on the draft Annual Plan.

We haven’t lost sight of our priorities though, and are still committed to getting our water right.

Our water programme is a top priority, so we are going to do some of the planned work quicker and invest more so we can do more. This year we propose to spend an extra $10.9 million over and above what we had already planned to spend. At the top of the list is clean drinking water and fixing the ongoing dirty water issues that some community members have been experiencing. So we are fast-tracking the projects to address this and are aiming to have these finished by the end of this year.

Alongside this, national drinking water standards have tightened, and there are further changes ahead. We are looking into our drinking water treatment options, and are starting a chlorine-free review to be completed by the end of September; this will help us plan the next steps.

Lastly I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the people of Napier for staying at home, breaking the chain and saving lives. It has been a challenging time that we all faced physically apart, but spiritually together, and now it is time to continue to work together to build a stronger, more resilient Napier.

Kia kotahi tatau o Ahuriri nei – we are Team Napier.


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