Regional issues - and Wanganui successes! - 10/03/2005by Deputy Mayor Dot McKinnon
I attended the Regional Chief's Forum in Feilding this week. With eight territorial authorities represented, there are also 10 Members of Parliament involved. Issues discussed included the Land Access Bill yet to go to Caucus. This has relevance to a large number of property owners, and it is very fortunate the Bill is not like the European model where people are free to roam over estates and land.
While the Land Access Bill is being considered, another issue emerged which promotes a public accessway right through central New Zealand. The Te Araroa Walkway is a public walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff. A novel concept! Palmerston North has already earmarked considerable funds in their annual plan to promote this walkway. As the walkway stretches along the Whanganui River from Mt Ruapehu to the coast, Wanganui is involved. I wonder if there is not some Trust in existence which would pick up and foster this project in our region.
Windfarms are another issue, one that Wanganui has not yet had to address. The concern is that this utility impacts on the landscape and that provision in our District Plans should consider windfarm management and zoning issues.
Auditing our Long-term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) was also a 'hot' issue. The additional cost of this audit on local government is in the vicinity of $50,000. This is another example of central government 'dumping' compliance costs on local government. Smaller councils will find this compliance cost a real burden and, of course, the ratepayer will inevitably have to pay. Is this part of a central government ploy to burden small territorial authorities in such a way that amalgamation of smaller councils must occur? I do question the need for so many territorial authorities in New Zealand – amalgamation is not ridiculous. Yet can you hear the screams of parochialism already starting, if this is mentioned too loudly!
Some of you may be expecting comment from me about the impending alleged breach of the Councillors' Code of Conduct. From a legal opinion viewpoint, it is not appropriate for me to comment on anything other than the process, given that it is my duty as Deputy Chair of the Audit and Administration Committee to preside over the allegations. As far as process is concerned, a legal opinion confirms that the alleged breach must be heard by this committee and there is no provision in the code for anyone independent to preside over this hearing. I would like to give all Councillors the opportunity to hear from the parties concerned and a deliberation will then be made by all.
How wonderful to read of Catherine Sell's national cycling success and then the local cycling administrators' success at the Wanganui Sports Awards. Congratulations to our outstanding cycling fraternity in Wanganui.
Congratulations also to Repertory Theatre for organising one of the more challenging and successful shows – Agnes of God. Local actors and directors contribute so much to the variety of entertainment we experience here in Wanganui.
Another great week for Wanganui. Keep smiling!