Skip to main content

Local Government

Long-Term Plans need input – Disagreement on ‘Nice to Haves’

The Informer has backed this up with a template of a submission form in case some seeking where to go, find the TCDC website requires forensic investigation. That’s not because it is hard to navigate – there is simply a lot of information and some of the questions require you to choose from listed options and and it can feel as if your submission is being directed into a limited and directed choice.
 |  Pauline Stewart  |  ,

As our Mayor, Len Salt has said, the best place to go for making a submission is the TCDC website.

Reading background detail is well worthwhile and hard copies can be obtained in the few days left to make a submission.

Long-term plans are just that – a ten-year plan which needs to change at budget time because some projects completed naturally drop-off and other items get dropped off because the planning is not ready or costs have increased, so delays are necessary. New items are added due to local and/or changing circumstances. Due to the cyclones of early 2023, the Long-Term Plan changed dramatically.

The residents and ratepayer groups around the Peninsula meet to consider the Long-Term Plan’s budget and project priorities and agree on submissions as a group. Individuals are also invited to put in submissions. This is a pillar in our democracy. We have a say and all submissions, we have been assured, will be read and considered. These submissions can be spoken to in person at designated meetings. Monday 8 April is the cut-off date for submissions and requests to speak at a public hearing to your submission.

What is clear, is there is a severe tightening of the financial belt

There is not an option to choose no increase in rates and why would there be?  All costs for living and operating have increased. The option one does have on the submission form is to choose how you would like it spread over three years.  This is the first of five areas for comment and suggestions – ‘Managing rate spikes’. When a community feels that they have not had any measurable service for their rates for quite some time even before the current TCDC was elected and well before the cyclones, then tension and resentment can occur.  In the understanding of some ratepayers, to refer to cyclone recovery costs and provision of basic services being the cause of rates increases, and damage done in the cyclone has not yet been addressed either; then it does  not seem reasonable.

Accountability to that particular community then becomes necessary. Even though there is a need in another community, the ratepayers are watching where their dollars are being spent.

The concerns expressed at different meetings and in letters and emails

Concerns that did exist in a community and that were published in the 2018 to 2028 have dropped off in the 2024 to 2034 proposed plan without consultation or explanation.

The emphasis that this LTP is not one to provide the ‘nice to haves’ was met by disquiet in some quarters. One community is making it clear that they see roading and footpaths as essential and not ‘nice-to-haves.’ They are top of the agenda particularly if that absent footpath means disabled people have nowhere to go but out on a busy road or children have nowhere to walk home to and from school. That roading and footpaths are lost away down in the document of the LTP is a rather telling statement.

One community is clear they are not asking for a ‘nice to have’ but what they did have needs to be restored.

The cost of the proposed engineering required in Thames to stop sea level rise seems a huge ‘need to spend’ amount disproportionate to the rest of the Peninsula requirements.  A question begging is whether this is a soft solution or hard structure solution knowing TCDC’s regulatory stand of ‘no hard structures.’ In the light of some extreme damage from cyclones to the dwellings on beach fronts rendering them incredibly vulnerable and not receiving any remedial attention; this seems inexplicable.   

One community, within days of the damage done to a number of homes by cyclones Hale and Gabriel, engaged engineers and prepared a two – pronged plan for the two ends of their beach front. In addition, they were prepared to pay for the cost of this project to save their homes and restore the beach front. Of course, it required a little more work, and a Resource Consent would need to be set in motion once a green light was evident from TCDC. That green light is not there – not even an amber one. There was real energy and unity from the residents when this was first proposed but nothing has been achieved except the engineers’ proposals are still on the table. When there is little response, residents start to make their own plans and cohesion is lost.

There is one item that exists for Kuaotunu in the current proposed LTP and that is ‘renew the conveniences at the end of  Black Jack Reserve. This inclusion is a surprise. The community at the Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers is clear that the $280,000 allocated could be better spent on more urgent needs and that the algorithm that renders these facilities past their ‘used by’ date could be reviewed and at a lesser cost, a footpath could be afforded with that budgeted amount.   

How did an amount of $14 million rocket to over $50 million for a swimming pool complex and that it is seen as a high priority or the region. One resident asked that Thames show the Peninsula a detailed business case that their growing population needed such a facility in the early period of the LTP.

There is a need to see an overall plan for the Peninsula’s water storage, waste water treatment and storm water management – this needs to cover all the Community Board areas with close attention to ow resources can be shared. A budget needs to be presented to accompany the plan so that residents can be informed properly before they suggest things in their submissions.

A detailed plan of the proposed Whitianga esplanade development needs to be sighted and examined again acknowledging that there is an awareness of safety issues that have developed with more complicated, multi and simultaneous use of the pier and esplanade. This is a ‘special’ project for some TCDC Councillors but is the proposal responding only to the present or will it cater for future growth for that defined area? Is its place in the the proposed current period of the LTP justified when parts of our exposed shoreline, vulnerability of homes, and storm water have not been addressed.

Easy observations: There are some hard to hear answers. Not all the problems and frustrations are related to the current council. There is not enough rates income to speak to the infrastructure needs of the region.

The other four areas designated for your submissions are:

• Investing more in future plans (this is the point of Long-term Plans)

• Investing in connected communities – some see this as roads and footpaths and streetlights; others see it as more of a social service or boost to event planning.

• Increasing fees and charges to keep rates manageable.

• The future of our TCDC office in Thames – this needs a major refit to be earthquake proof and the building is no longer fit for purpose. Options are set out on the website.

These opinions above are not devised by the editor