Disadvantaged disengaged says Salvation Army man
The South Waikato District Council is out of touch with those on low incomes it was told at a public meeting last week.
During a meeting to discuss the Long Term Plan, the Salvation Army’s Colin Bridle shared his concerns about the council’s lack of connection with the growing number of beneficiaries.
‘‘Approximately 47 per cent of the people in this district live on some form of government benefit, and a lot of those people aren’t in this room and aren’t represented.
‘‘You give them a document like this (long-term plan) and they can’t go anywhere near it or read it or understand it . . . here we are with a major draft document and how many people have we got in this room (30).
‘‘We talk about leadership and we talk about vision and these are only good as long as it connects to people.’’ Mr Bridle said
‘‘I think we are lacking in connectedness. We have two societies in this town, those who are working and those who are paying and they live in a microcosm, and then there’s a greater swell of people living underneath and that group of people is getting bigger every day because I see it on my doorstep.’’ he said.
Mr Bridle was also concerned with the sub-standard housing some people are living in.
‘‘I hate to say it but the private sector is not capable of providing that and you only have to see some of the sub-standard housing that I see week-to-week, day-today and look at what some of our kids are living in and it’s inappropriate . . .
‘‘And I know that we can say that we have all told them they should be here but I’m sorry that doesn’t cut the mustard; we pay to communicate.’’
Mr Bridle also wanted to speak to Raukawa about the growing number of ‘‘dispossessed and disadvantaged Maori in the area’’.
‘‘(They are) not looked after well and we need to address it; this is a wake-up time.’’
Deputy Mayor Jenny Shattock asked Mr Bridle what more could the council do.
To which Mr Bridle said: ‘‘ I want to suggest a different strategy and that is, you throw a party; you get people around the table, around food to talk one-on-one. I’ve watched the dynamic of what’s happening, especially with those who are disadvantaged if you give them a feed they will come.’’
Cr Shattock then asked about the neighbourhood parties and Mr Bridle said it was a start but there were people engaged.
Cr Shattock then asked if he thought this was ‘‘ the council’s role or responsibility?’’.
‘‘Excuse me asking because the council’s role, and I’m talking about the hospital and particularly his worship, have worked so hard to maintain that hospital and the health centre, and things have been moving but we have advocated so hard and have worked so hard in our area, I guess I’m feeling a bit defensive.’’ Cr Shattock said. ‘‘I’m not criticising the work that’s been done, can you hear me,’’ Mr Bridle said. ‘‘What I’m saying is a lot of work’s been done and some of it’s been really great but it’s that age-old problem of how you get the rest of the people on board the train.’’
Mr Bridle went on to ask the mayor what was happening with the different factories being made.
‘‘Hope deferred makes the heart sink and what I’m hearing from people is that we have heard it all before, and because their hope has been deferred for so long the town is sick, particularly those in the lower income group; particularly those on a benefit. You only have to sit and listen and hear what they have to say.
‘‘I’m suggesting sit down in a
being Work and Income office or in a TCOSS office.’’
‘‘Colin I recognise your passion,’’ Mr Sinclair said, ‘‘and I recognise that when we started the warm homes we went into our poorer houses to start our clean heat, to start our installation programme. We actually met in the Samoan hall and did it in Samoan. We met the Cook Islands . . . and we have actually gone out to the community to improve the health of those homes . . . we actually are leading in that.’’
Mr Sinclair described his bitter disappointment with what was going on with the different factories and business ventures that were supposed to come into the district.
‘‘They’re not coming in because of the global situation and the high New Zealand dollar which we have no control over.
‘‘I meet with the investors for both these areas and said I want these things here; I want 70 people. They’re saying, hey, at present you are not it; we don’t get value for money. If we have that done we will have Arapuni going down there and we’ve actually lost because of what is taking place . . . the global situation is hitting places like us in terms of investments,’’ he said.