Well it is a busy time for all Councillors with the Draft LTP Road Show going to Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown and Tuturumuri as well as fitting in a half-day meeting in Carterton for the Morrison Low Presentation we commissioned re Local Governance and a Council and Policy & Finance Meeting plus a Zone 4 Meeting in the Hutt all in the same week.
Spleens were vented at the LTP meetings – toilets, the Martinborough Town Hall, swimming pools Councillor salary increases (we didn’t get one except the Mayor $300), signage, sewerage, stormwater and rate arrears were all hot topics that provided lively meetings.
That was mostly urban – at Tuturumuri hardy locals turned out on a freezing night with their issues being Coastal and Rural Reserves, Camping and Freedom Camping, the success of the Coastal Ranger position for the busy summer months to monitor campers, dogs and rubbish. The pleasure at the new Library Service being provided to Tuturumuri School was mentioned and changes to Rural Fire were said to be positive.
Oldfields were given a seal of approval for their work. The Recycling Depot is going to be relocated with local community consultation – 2 sites suitable – and the road is being built up by the school to Laings Bridge to prevent the road flooding and isolating the school.
As for the local Governance Review – there is a lot of midnight oil burning with the Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party who will have a Briefing for all Wairarapa Councillors on options and processes in mid June. Please do get your submissions on the Draft LTP into us by 5pm Friday 8 June 2012. I am thinking we should look at holding one day time meeting Draft LTP Presentation next year for people who don’t want to go out at night.
Amalgamation: People should be aware that this not a forgone conclusion and it won’t happen overnight. There is a detailed legal process which the 3 councils will be required to follow of which public support is essential, this process will be subject to Government law changes later this year. Well for my dollars’ worth, there are two very important issues that will need to be addressed with any possible amalgamation
Autonomy of our communities. To an outsider the three towns in the South Wairarapa may appear similar, however for those of us who are residents know or are aware of how different and at times parochial the town’s people can be.
Analyse those differences and it would probably be found that pride plays the major part. It is pride, sense of belonging, aspirations and vision of the people in the community that make our communities different. It is extremely important to have some form of town governance be it community Boards or some other structure, autonomy of the Wairarapa towns is essential.
Caution, while it goes without saying that any amalgamation requires considerably more information than the high level study done by MorrisonLow, of their 2 recommended options the combining of the three Councils is possibly seen as the relatively easy option due to the information being readily available. The Unitary Council option is however considerably more difficult and requires a greater in-depth study. I appreciate that many in the rural sector may favour this option as they are more directly impacted than urbanites and see benefits. However greater caution is required to ensure that the costs of a Unitary Council are fully understood.
Town Hall: I recently spent a long weekend in the deep south meeting my first grandchild and attending my third daughter’s graduation, very proud moments for an old codger.
While south I spent time in both Invercargill and Dunedin and I could not help noticing the numerous unreinforced brick buildings, I say numerous for there is one hell of a lot of them. We may think that we have a problem with our Town Hall; well I would suggest it pales to insignificance when these two relatively small cities are considered.
There are of course many small rural towns throughout NZ were the majority commercial buildings were built of brick because it was considered low maintenance and permanent. There is a growing concern in these communities for the possible loss of their heritage buildings and amenity value. The turmoil of Christchurch has spread its fingers in a form that will redesign, change towns and cities distinctive character, heritage values and have far reaching financial implications.
The Town Hall is one of our buildings that creates a distinctive feature that melds the Town’s unique character. The unique character, ambiance of a Town can be a blend of things, partly due to its natural setting, its original design, tree planting, streetscape and buildings, it evolves out of time created by various generations, people who have pride, a sense of belonging and a willingness to invest and make contributions to the town and its community. Legacies worthy of preservation.
I would like to thank Cressy for his passion, tenacity and forbearance for keeping the Town Hall on the public agenda. The Council has put $900K for the strengthening into the Long Term Plan this is subject to public scrutiny by way of the submission process to the LTP.