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Power to the Residents and Ratepayers

By Pauline Stewart.

The Informer spent some time at three local residents and ratepayers meetings in Mercury

Bay during the Easter period. Two were well attended - over 40 people and there was considerable engagement.’

The major issues Rubbish collection and disposal of waste - especially the supply of bins and not blue bags; where the waste goes and what is done with the rubbish. The intent was that there should be more encouragement of people to manage their own food waste. There was a recognition in agreement with TCDC that for a good number of people, composting was not going to happen. This matter has run out of time in terms of submissions. The Seagull

Centre is seen as an outstanding success by many in the community for its ability to be self funding and so effective in recycling. Manus Pretorius, General Manager of the Centre was very optimistic that a submission they had made for local management of waste would be accepted and included by TCDC in the annual plan by TCDC. The intent is for Wahi Tukurua to have a similar system to the Paeroa Centre. At the present time, rubbish goes to Paeroa for recycling, which is out of the TCDC boundary. The tag system of $8 a tag whenever you put out your general waste 120litre bin is an issue for some residents citing that in city areas, the tags have been stolen. The cost of more than $2 million is a red flag for others but it was stated that the cost of the big was already designed off no one was certain but it raises the question of the power of submissions. Perhaps the management and operational costs can be decreased if the bins are ordered and already paid for.

Halting erosion and saving your home - is user pays enough?

Erosion of the beach and the ability of residents and ratepayers to be able to act within the bounds of local government consents and the parameters of the Shoreline Management Pathways and Coastal Protection and its element of coastal protection. It seems to have the power of legislation as the word ‘bound’ is used a lot, as in the ratepayers and residents are

‘bound’ by it and must follow it. One of the lead quotes in that project is, “Empowering local people to make recommendations on the future management of coastlines has been hugely valuable,” Project Lead, Amon Martin. However in the end, the council will move to enact the plan and perhaps the consulting power of Waka Kotahi and the large firms that were also consulted at length is more powerful than the voice of the residents who made submissions. That is no surprise. But now we have the powerful insertion of powerful voice of residents firmly offering

to pay for the total cost of consultancy, engineered plans, materials, and construction of any hard and soft structures to protect their homes. They believe it is urgent that they do and they are looking to the Council to facilitate and even fast track consents. Will this happen? Can it happen? Will it only happen if it is totally compliant with the above mentioned Plans? Is there room to move and the larger question has to be answered – Is there room to move quickly? This looms in front of every resident who looks at an eroded beach front threatening their home. It is no longer enough

to say, “We are working as hard as we can.” Some say that the only urgent action will come when the ocean reaches the bounds of SH25 and that could happen in several places. The over 400 kms of shoreline is varied and a huge job for a resource stretched Council. That is not going to change. Is there a way for TCDC to include the ratepayers and residents and their plans in their official resource to protect the coast? Obviously that prior consultation in the early stages as Amon has

mentioned. Needs to be given a second look - there are many informed residents in their local areas making recommendations on the future management of their coastlines.” This could help resources, costs, and the future considerably. Budget allocations absent for approved projects: Another meeting was concerned about the fact that two major projects that have been occupying their focus and energy and money which have the support of council do not appear to be included in the budget set out in the Draft Annual Plan. They were working hard on submissions to be completed on the day this issue of the informer goes to print. Mayor Len and his team have a great deal to consider and they don’t have a lot of time or a lot of money, but it is not their money, they are simply the stewards of it.


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