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From the Mayor

December 9, 2019 December 2019 No Comments

Christmas is nearly upon us!  I hope to see you all at the Christmas Parade on 14th December. I have been offered a vintage convertible to sit in by Peter McKeown, and hope to be joined by a pupil from Tuturumuri School, to show sympathy for its sad, imminent closure.

The last week saw the first SWDC proper Council meeting. At this meeting, my new committee structure was adopted by councillors – with some justified concern over where some functions of the disbanded committees would sit.

I have adopted a flat structure, removing all working groups to improve transparency and moving some decision-making to community boards, thereby allowing councillors to use the remaining committees and Council meetings to focus on issues with a broad overview. We will have one working group – the Annual Plan/Long Term Plan Working Group – that can be formed as needed and will involve the entire Council.

Transparency was a big concern at the last election. The new committee structure, along with streaming Council meetings from next year; extending the agenda availability; appointing an auditor to scrutinise the need for publicly excluded meetings; and releasing excluded decisions as soon as possible, will, I trust, address this issue.

You may have seen in the news the review by Wellington Water of the South Wairarapa’s drinking water compliance. When assessed against national standards from the Ministry of Health, there were many areas where our infrastructure was found to be non-compliant. Even though the towns’ water is currently safe, it’s all about making sure it remains safe if something fails. 

We allocated $500,000 at the Council meeting on the 20th to address some issues immediately, and also create a plan to fix the balance of non-compliance issues. This will be an expensive project, but one that cannot be delayed in the interests of our community’s health. We are intending to fund this multi-million dollar expense out of reserves and long-term borrowing with the aim of minimising any impact on rates.

Pirinoa will immediately have an accurate chlorine meter installed, along with the addition of UV treatment to give it an extra barrier of protection. Martinborough water already has the required multi-barrier protection with the introduction of chlorine earlier this year. We’re currently in the resource consent phase of installing a manganese removal plant, and until it’s operational the town is being supplied by only one bore.

With a long hot summer likely, we have implemented water restrictions earlier than usual this year to keep pressure off the system, and trust you will all help in this. We are aware of a number of leaks around the town and are working hard to address these as well.

I hope you will all manage to get some rest and relaxation over the holiday break, taking some time with your family and friends. Merry Christmas to you all, and you’ll hear from me again in the New Year.

Cheers Alex Beijen

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