We need one voice for projects: Fisher

Waikato Times - - NEWS - LIBBY WIL­SON

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.

PHOTO: CHRISTEL YARD­LEY/STUFF

Lo­cal spend­ing on projects could be matched by Gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and re­gional coun­cil, Hamil­ton City coun­cil­lors heard (file photo).

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