By Pauline Stewart
There were 140 people in attendance at the public meeting organised by the Mercury Bay Business Association (MBBA) last Wednesday, 22 February, one of three meetings held across The Coromandel to report back to the wider community as to the future regarding our economic life. Thames Coromandel District Council Mayor, Len Salt, presented as did Mitchell King, Economic Development, TCDC. Lynda Grant, Chair of MBBA, hosted the meeting, explaining the context and welcoming everyone.
This was a matter of fact meeting, buoyancy didn’t exist.
In effect, our Guest Editorial on page 14 reflects the underwhelming impression that pervades people as to the future and how much they can rely on government agencies in general for solutions. There is an acute awareness of the huge costs involved in the preparing of roads for any kind of economic future and the inability of rate payers to pay for what should be a central government priority and which hasn’t been a central government priority for a very long time.
Separate statements by Mayor Len Salt reported at the Wednesday meeting.
We have a wish list of requests of central government; we will forward this to you through the Business Association.
I wrote my first request on January 12, 2023. Our first request was - “Look at the subsidy urgently.” Our subsidy is at 71% from Waka Kotahi." (TCDC pays 29% of the cost of every project.)
Nanaia Mahuta and Michael Woods are the two Cabinet ministers responsible for the Waikato region including the Thames– Coromandel region.
We have $100,000 for our Mayoral Relief Fund and in addition, there is $30,000 promised from Trust Waikato. We hope to get more money into this. The Mayoral Relief Fund closes, 5 March.
We do not have the money for the tens of millions of dollars we need to fix the roads.
We are in transition and recovery mode. You will start to see things get back to normal, but we have a new normal.
Minister McAnulty has just released $1.7m for cyclone relief (both Hale and Gabrielle). This is destined for the three councils: Matamata-Piako, Hauraki and TCDC. The Informer assumes at this point that Coromandel Peninsula is entitled to at least, $500,000.
TCDC Newsletter, Friday 24 February:
“We’ve been busy this week working through, with the government and relevant agencies, the shape and size of budgets and packages that will help assist our Coromandel communities recover from the onslaught of storms, and build resilience. Huge thanks to those who have contributed to the Mayoral Fund so far.
TCDC Newsletter, Sunday, 26 February:
Coromandel businesses can apply for interim cyclone support.
“A $25 million grant allocation to help businesses in cyclone-affected regions to clean up and get back on their feet is a welcome boost to the Coromandel. “We really want to thank the government for listening to us as we shared what our business communities are going through, and addressing some very painful economic hurt,” says our Mayor Len Salt.
“Between Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle we’ve hosted Minister McAnulty, Minister Allan and Minister Wood who have really understood the magnitude of these events on our local economy.”
“We acknowledge other regions that have been worse hit in many ways, and the distribution of this funding will reflect that in the allocation. The collapse of our roading networks is one of the biggest issues for us, and those connectivity links have a huge impact on business productivity,” says Mayor Len. “Each local agency will have their own processes, but the Government has provided the funding to address the immediate cashflow needs of businesses, impacted due to barriers to customer access, ability to source stock, supply chain issues, inability to operate as usual due to physical damage to equipment or premises, or delays in insurance assessment and repairs.”
The Informer asked Mayor Len Salt what is the allocation to this region, knowing the devastation in Hawkes bay is much worse than here, however it would help to know the allocation.
Len Salt: “We’re just not sure yet the exact amount. It will be a allocated based on need, and we have clearly identified a need in our community although we again acknowledge the extreme conditions faced by our friends in Hawkes Bay, Tairawhiti, Wairoa, Northland and other parts of the North Island. I'm confident our business community will have a good measure of support in place, once we have the final numbers confirmed. We can confirm that the level of individual grant can be up to $40,000, based on the circumstances involved. We don't have criteria details yet.”
TCDC Newsletter: Sunday, 26 February:
There will be collaboration and input from our Business Associations and Industry leads around our district as part of this process, which we’ll be working through over the next few days,” says Mayor Len. In the past week our Chief Executive, Aileen Lawrie, our Economic Development Team, elected members and Economic Development and Communications Group Manager, Laurna White, attended the Thames, Mercury Bay and Whangamatā Business Association. The feedback from these local communities was extremely valuable and will help with decisions around the allocation of funds. We've also been running a business impact survey, and this data and evidence will also contribute to the decision making.
The Informer asked again if there was any word on the allocation and how it would be allocated.
Mayor Len: There are still some details to be confirmed in terms of the specific amount that Thames Coromandel will be allocated. That information should be through within the next couple of days, however we are confident that the Thames Coromandel District will have a dedicated allocation that will provide significant benefit and relief to our local people.
More from Sunday 26 February:
The good news is that the funds will come directly to our council for administration and distribution (grants up to a maximum of $40,000 per business)… thanks to the strong connections and working relationships between our CE Aileen Lawrie, our Council, and the direct discussions with cabinet ministers who have taken the time to visit us. It's good to see some support now available for our local businesses, their staff and families who have all been doing it really hard for more than two years now, and we acknowledge the support of those government ministers and their teams.
Mayor Len: The details of the criteria for the grants will be released once it is finalised and application details will be available on our website.
TCDC will be making the grant decisions for TCDC once the allocated amount for the region out of all the cyclone affected areas is known.
Questions heard from concerned tax payers:
Q. How do you distinguish between the large retail provider and businesses such as the small coffee truck or stall holder who relied on seasonal events?
Q. How do the allocations assist those who now travel so much further and for longer everyday?
Q. Will the whole of our shared wealth (all our cultures) be used to address the huge cost of recovering from the destruction that has occurred and planning together for a shared future?
Q. Where is the accountability for lack of maintenance? It is not just the government in power now that is responsible.
Q. How is the Coromandel region seen by central government - is the importance of tourism recognised? Will the growth in entrepreneurship and infrastructure achieved by individual townships be recognised in terms of development? There is no match for this from what has been received from central government and there hasn’t been for a very long time.
Caption: Len Salt at the slip.