We need one voice for projects: Fisher
Waikato isn’t getting its share of government money for economy-boosting projects, a local businessman says.
The suggested solution is a regional economic development agency to be a voice for projects, such as making Te Aroha a spa capital.
Waikato Means Business chair Dallas Fisher presented the idea to Hamilton city councillors at a Thursday briefing - and asked for a yearly $140,000 contribution to the new body. But several councillors were sceptical, wanting to know why this would work when previous versions hadn’t.
Economic development in the Waikato is fragmented, Fisher said. It needs to speak with one voice.
‘‘We need to give government the signals so they will release their purse strings to the Waikato because, compared to every other region, we’re just not getting our share,’’ Fisher said. Once the Waikato has the figures and the right projects, it can go to Government and ask for help.
‘‘This is about turning your dollar into four, so your dollar matches the regional council, matches business, matches Government.’’
Fisher chairs the steering group behind Waikato Means Business, the region’s economic development strategy. The proposed development agency would ideally span nine councils and costs would be shared between them - based on population. Taupo and Rotorua are not currently part of the plan, as they come under the Bay of Plenty programme.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment gave the Waikato $85,000 for economic development projects in 2016, Fisher said.
This year, requests for $580,000 are in front of the ministry and they’re getting traction.
Hamilton hasn’t had much success with economic development agencies in the past, Councillor Angela O’Leary said, before asking what would make this one different.
Past groups were Hamilton-focused, council general manager of venues, tourism, and major events group Sean Murray said.
In some cases, the groups did not have the right leadership, funding, or any business involvement.
Fisher said a positive sign is the formation of Agenda Waikato - ‘‘business, for the first time, coming together at what I’ll call a senior level’’.
Cr Paula Southgate asked what would happen if not all councils wanted to fund the development agency. It would probably mean doing fewer co-funded projects, Fisher said, but councils which weren’t part of the group wouldn’t get the benefits from them.
Mayor Andrew King proposed a report be brought to the next growth and infrastructure committee meeting. High risk rural roads in the northern Waikato District are among those getting a speed limit review this month. The public can have a say on proposed changes to Waikato District Council’s Speed Limits Bylaw. Rural roads in the northern area are up first, as council is following recommendations in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Speed Management Guide. ‘‘A number of roads in the Waikato District have been identified as high risk with their current speed limits in place,’’ a council release said. Speed limit reductions are proposed for roads in the Awaroa ki Tuakau, Onewhero and Whangamarino Wards, based on criteria such as road width, crash history and traffic volume. Other changes are proposed where significant areas of residential development are zoned for, so any future roading development in these areas will have a default speed limit of 50kmh. Submissions close October 13 and the hearing date for submissions is November 27. Te Awamutu police are searching for witnesses to a collision between a white Toyota and a blue Hyundai parked on Bracken St, Cambridge at 7:25pm on Wednesday. Senior Constable Mark Strongman said a occupant of the Hyundai was grabbing items from the back of the car when the crash happened, and was seriously injured. He said everyone involved was accounted for, but witnesses were sought. The owner of a boat removed from Tauranga’s Pilot Bay has stopped returning the harbourmaster’s calls, but can still expect to receive a bill. The trimaran sank on its mooring on Tuesday, creating an environmental and safety risk for boat users. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council deputy harbourmaster Daniel Rapson was charged with removing the boat from the water, but does not want the ratepayer to pick up the tab. Under the Maritime Transport Act, harbourmasters are required to take all practical steps to refloat a sunken vessel, take possession and remove it from the harbour. The Harbourmasters office would like the owner of the boat removed from Tauranga to make contact.
Local spending on projects could be matched by Government, business and regional council, Hamilton City councillors heard (file photo).