MAYOR: Driving with purpose reaps rewards

Published: 10 November 2022

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The silly season has begun, and the next six weeks is a whirl of events, from acknowledging the efforts of more than 200 apprentices to lighting up the big Christmas tree on East Street and hearing submissions on Council’s alfresco dining policy.

This week we also hope to hear some good news from Waka Kotahi about the re-opening of the Walnut Avenue intersections and that will provide some timely Christmas cheer as traffic flows return to normal.

With traffic lights instead of two roundabouts, our school children will find it safer to cross the state highway on their bikes or on foot, and that has to be a good thing.

Our young drivers too need support and I am hoping that Council can help encourage a few more volunteers to help Ashburton College students working hard to move from their learner to restricted licences.

A 12-week programme pairs up experienced drivers with learner drivers and helps them prepare to take the restricted test, but the college desperately needs more volunteers so that the programme can keep going next year. If it’s successful, it will be rolled out around the country.

Ashburton is a good place to try it because we don’t have public transport and many jobs require workers to travel, either to the place of work or as part of the job itself. Helping students get their licences means they are much more likely to land a job and help contribute to our economy.

Also still on their ‘restricted licences’ are our new councillors, who are rapidly getting to grips with Council business following the Local Government Elections.

This week elected members and senior staff paid a visit to Te Pātaka o kā Tuhituhi and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka, the new library and civic centre under construction at Baring Square East. For the new councillors, this was their first look inside the building that will meet our growing district’s needs for another 50 years.

It is an ongoing challenge to keep construction costs to within the original budget, and we are doing our best to keep the project on track financially.

I look forward to the day when the scaffolding comes down and we can see how this landmark building will sit in the space and serve its community. It will be well placed for events like Light up the Night and other special occasions.

Next week I will be meeting with mayors around the South Island at a zone 5/6 local government conference in Nelson, and then with mayors of rural and provincial districts a few days later in Wellington.

Two topics bound to be well discussed will be the future of local government, on the back of the first draft report into Government’s review for local government, and the alternate three waters plan proposed by the mayors of Auckland and Christchurch cities.

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