Tak­ing an open ap­proach to plan­ning

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - ALAN LIVINGSTON

The Waikato re­gion is in­creas­ingly walk­ing the talk when it comes to work­ing to­gether to cre­ate pros­per­ous com­mu­ni­ties.

Just this week Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil kicked off a new open door ap­proach to the for­mu­la­tion of its key ten-year long term plan (LTP) cov­er­ing 2018-28.

In the past, we’ve come up with a new LTP ev­ery three years af­ter con­sult­ing on what the coun­cil thinks are the key is­sues and pri­or­i­ties.

This time round we’re go­ing to stake­hold­ers and the wider pub­lic first for their ideas be­fore we get into for­mu­lat­ing ours.

We had a great turnout of more than 50 stake­hold­ers at last week’s event at Kara­piro where we chewed over how the coun­cil can best fa­cil­i­tate, sup­port and en­able ways of mak­ing the re­gion the best it can be.

My per­sonal view ex­pressed at the meet­ing is that we are one re­gion and we in­creas­ingly need to speak with one voice.

There are op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­di­vid­ual parts of the re­gion to achieve in dif­fer­ent ar­eas.

We must all sup­port each other to be suc­cess­ful with the ini­tia­tives we take.

The mes­sage com­ing from those at­tend­ing is that they also want bet­ter con­nec­tiv­ity and for the coun­cil to take a lead in fa­cil­i­tat­ing success.

There were calls for more ef­fi­ciency, less dou­bling up of ef­fort, and to utilise and sup­port the vast num­bers of vol­un­teers who’re will­ing to help with var­i­ous ini­tia­tives.

Peo­ple at the fo­rum gen­er­ally liked our pri­or­i­ties in­clud­ing sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties to take ac­tion, build­ing part­ner­ships, sus­tain­able land use, bet­ter fresh­wa­ter man­age­ment, in­creas­ing com­mu­nity un­der­stand­ing of risks and re­silience, sup­port­ing our coasts and marine ar­eas, and en­hanc­ing our re­gional qual­ity of life.

These are big pic­ture goals that will re­quire a lot of de­tailed ef­fort to achieve but it feels like we’re on the right track with our think­ing.

We’ll be go­ing to the wider pub­lic for its views in June be­fore a draft LTP is pro­duced over com­ing months ahead of for­mal con­sul­ta­tion and sub­mis­sions.

As we go through this process, we’ll also con­tinue to work through the Waikato May­oral Fo­rum and the Waikato Plan to get coun­cils, agen­cies, stake­hold­ers and the com­mu­nity tak­ing a joined up ap­proach.

I’ve been in­volved in lo­cal pol­i­tics for a long time and can safely say I’ve never seen a more co­op­er­a­tive ap­proach around the Waikato to boost­ing re­gional well­be­ing.

The ex­ten­sive col­lab­o­ra­tive ground­work be­ing put in has al­ready de­liv­ered re­sults such as fund­ing for the ex­press­way. Our chal­lenge now is to build on that mo­men­tum to en­sure we keep de­liv­er­ing tan­gi­ble re­sults for our com­mu­ni­ties.

For the coun­cil’s part, we’re aware of the need to al­ways balance driv­ing things for­ward with af­ford­abil­ity. Our re­cently agreed bud­get for 2017-18 is for a 2.9 per cent av­er­age rates rise for ex­ist­ing ratepay­ers, en­abling us to meet some key new cost pres­sures whilst keep­ing rates in­creases to a rea­son­able level.

Over­all, I favour the re­gion as­pir­ing to be the best we can be while al­ways tak­ing a down-toearth and prac­ti­cal ap­proach to get­ting there.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil chair­man Alan Livingston.

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