Dis­ad­van­taged dis­en­gaged says Sal­va­tion Army man

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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

still

not

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.

COLIN BRI­DLE

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