Mayor: We'll be keeping our sleeves rolled up

Published: 13 October 2022

I’m proud to be leading the Ashburton District once again and looking forward to building a great team with the new and returning Councillors.

We are a mix of old hands and new blood, and that experience and energy will be needed in the next three years as we have plenty of work ahead of us.

Before I look forward, I want to acknowledge my team of the past term – we developed a great culture and achieved some good things, all working towards the best outcomes for our community.

I wish retiring councillors Stuart Wilson, Angus McKay, Diane Rawlinson and John Falloon all the best, and welcome new councillors Russell Ellis, Phill Hooper, Tony Todd and Richard Wilson to the table. The most important task for us all is learning how to be an effective team, and I’m sure that won’t take too long given everyone’s commitment and passion for our district.

The new Council will meet informally this week and it will be a chance to talk about aspirations for the term and get to know each other a little better.

Next week Councillors will meet the executive team and talk about key items and issues for Council (including the finances), and key projects like the new library and civic centre, Te Pātaka o kā Tuhituhi and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka. New and returning members will also attend training organised by Local Government New Zealand.

The inaugural council meeting will be held on 27 October and will include swearing in of myself as mayor and councillors, and Methven Community Board members. We’ll also adopt a meeting schedule for the remainder of the year and elect a deputy mayor.

Sometimes the work of Council can feel overwhelming and incredibly slow, but a lot can be achieved, even in the face of a global pandemic and civil defence emergencies.

While all that was going on in the past few years, we still managed to complete a business case for the second bridge, install a new sewer main in Ashburton and build a new water reservoir in Methven.

On top of that, we applied for and obtained $20 million for the new library and civic centre, which should be operational by mid-2023.

Over the three-year term we also spent tens of millions of dollars on our roading network though two wet winters have made it hard to see where the money was spent. We know the network needs more attention and money spent on it in the future.

Over the past three years, there has also been a lot of work done by domain and reserve boards and hall committees, and these volunteer groups are also important to the work of council. I thank these volunteers and hope they are well supported by their communities at their own coming elections.

So as another triennium begins, we all need to keep our sleeves rolled up.

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