Core busi­ness

Whangarei Report - - OPINION -

A re­cent ar­ti­cle by Michael Bar­nett in Auck­land re­gard­ing lo­cal coun­cils not stick­ing to their core busi­ness was right on the money as far as I am con­cerned (and no doubt quite a few oth­ers).

He was com­ment­ing on the ap­palling waste of money by coun­cils, whereby in­stead of stick­ing to the ba­sics of good man­age­ment that they are elected for, many have been spend­ing huge amounts of money on projects that aren’t re­ally that im­por­tant in the scheme of things.

Auck­land for in­stance has the “State House” on the end of the wharf (which I be­lieve is need­ing some re­pairs al­ready) and $285,000 on a mir­ror that hangs from a build­ing (it is cracked and needs re­pair)

The Whangarei Dis­trict Coun­cil has re­leased its lovely coloured brochure out­lin­ing its fu­ture plan­ning in­clud­ing a 2 per cent in­crease in rates every year for the next 10 years. This in­crease is sup­pos­edly to help pay for the grand “New Coun­cil Build­ing”. The coun­cil tells us it is cheaper to build a new build­ing than spend money ren­o­vat­ing Fo­rum North. I find this un­be­liev­able!

Fo­rum North looks to have huge ar­eas both within and with­out the build­ing that could be ren­o­vated. The va­cant cof­fee lounge area and the huge empty space be­tween the door and the of­fices are ex­am­ples. The fact many of coun­cil func­tions are ac­tioned elec­tron­i­cally usu­ally means less in­di­vid­ual “hands on staff”.

We are ad­vised in the brochure that there were 1400 com­ments and 687 sub­mis­sions to the LTP and full marks to those folk who found the time to read and com­ment on the huge amount of writ­ten data therein. (Some of the data too tech­ni­cal for many oth­ers)

How­ever, I also read that our pop­u­la­tion had in­creased to 90,000 and there­fore 687 sub­mis­sions is a rather pa­thetic re­sponse or is it an­other in­di­ca­tion of ap­a­thy to what is be­ing pro­posed.

The WDC does not have a very good record of main­tain­ing any of its prop­er­ties that they re­lin­quish and I won­der what would hap­pen to Fo­rum North in the long term. An­other Blue Goose or NRC build­ing fi­asco?

Re­cent state­ments in the news ap­pear to con­tain a lot of hype and I do won­der where the busi­ness acu­men from our coun­cil­lors and other busi­ness lead­ers comes from. I am slightly in­cred­u­lous that af­ter the first cruise ship to berth at Mars­den Point in 2021, it will be the first of many that could see up to 60 ships a year call into Whanga¯ rei, re­ally?

_ Brian O’brien


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