Councillor Rodger Letham: Do it right and keep it local

Published: 12 May 2022

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We are almost starting the run-up to the next Local Body Elections, which are due to be held in October. Where has the last three years gone?

It has been a busy three years with some big projects completed or still under way, plus you can throw in Covid-19,  the Three Waters Programme, Local Government Reform and Resource Management Act review.

This is on top of our completion of the CBD upgrade, with the new Library and Civic Building under construction and the further development of Baring Square East planned, plus a new bridge on the horizon.

In the midst of all this Council still has to run and maintain the everyday activities of the district. Our staff are under extreme pressure but are holding the line well. But first things first.

Three Waters is going to be the biggest challenge we have seen for decades and it has not started well. No one denies that a massive investment in water infrastructure is needed throughout the country.

Space does not permit me to give a full run-down of events, or my opinions, but suffice to say Councillors, whoever they are, will need to be wary, watchful and focused in ensuring we get the best deal for our ratepayers.

The Government has not given us confidence in their performance so far. The programme has been poorly researched, badly presented and has cost millions of dollars in childish propaganda to try and sway the public to their point of view.

On top of all that, the Minister blatantly mandated the new entities before the end of the agreed time for study and questioning by councils. In my previous life, if a person broke a contract in that manner they would have been promptly marched into court. I am not even going to start on “co-governance” but it appears that ideology is getting in the way of practical commonsense.

However, it has, to a greater or lesser degree, always been thus. We are a resilient community which has over the years withstood floods, snow, gales, drought and storms. At times of disaster, we pull together and get through and we will do so again. All these things will pass and we will face different challenges.

We have some of the best soils in the world, the most successful farmers and business people that are the envy of many. We have good educational, cultural and sporting facilities. The enquiry for building sites both residential and commercial is huge, which indicates a positive future.

In light of all that is happening around the world, I am privileged to live, work and play in this district. A place where mothers can take their children to the playground in peace and safety, where our children can walk safely to school. Where we can gather and socialise in comfort and safety as and when we wish (except during covid lockdowns).

Long may it last.

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