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Working group formed to guide Motueka Plains Water Supply project

April 13th, 2011
[by David Armstrong]

A working group including local councillors and Community Board members will be formed to monitor and guide progress on developing and improving the water supply to the Motueka Plains.

At its April meeting yesterday the Community Board agreed to support the formation of the group, following the application last month by Tasman District Council for a subsidy from the central government Health Department to further the reticulation of water in the area.

The group will comprise include all members of the Community Board, the local Ward Councillors, the Engineering Manager, the TDC Engineering Committee Chair, and the Utilities Asset Manager.

With the subsidy application in place, the Ministry of Health will now review, evaluate, score and rank all the subsidy applications received. TDC said it understands a large number of applications were received and given there is only $10 million subsidy available and Council is asking for $4 million, there will be stiff competition. However the working group will have to prepare for the outcome whichever way it goes.

If a subsidy is granted, then Council has to determine the cost to the community for the water supply, consult with the community perhaps by information brochure, workshop and public meeting, receive and assess the community response, and decide whether to proceed.

If a subsidy is not granted, Council then has to decide how to proceed in the light of public health risks, servicing future growth and upgrading and developing the existing supply.

Once the subsidy is decided, the working party would take a more active role to help communicate with the community, understand their views and provide recommendations to Council on the direction it should take.

Aerodrome governance

Also discussed at the Community Board meeting was governance and operations at the Motueka Aerodrome. Currently this is under the control of TDC's Enterprises subcommittee, but Board Chairman David Ogilvie suggested that the Board should ask Council "to transfer governance and operational issues for the Motueka Airport to the Motueka Community Board, as from July 1st."

David said there is at least as much if not more business experience and expertise on the Community Board compared with the Council, and having local control would enable the aerodrome activities and issues to be handled "democratically ... efficiently and more cost effectively, with direct input by users and Motueka residents". He noted that "the high cost of Council's management seems unnecessary" and that "occasional input by airport users is another concern".

David's recommendation did not receive support from other Board members. Barry Dowler said the airport operation is now so big and involves commercial leases that it needs the administrative costs and the business expertise of the Council to do it.

Eileen Wilkins and Cliff Satherley said it would be good if a Community Board member could attend meetings of the Enterprises subcommittee and get involved in this way. Barry Dowler suggested that, given changes under way at present, David's recommendation should be "parked" for a few months and perhaps reconsidered then.

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