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Harvey Norman sale visit angers local retailers

October 10th, 2012
[by David Armstrong]

The public forum at yesterday's Community Board meeting was used to express strong opinions on a range of subjects, led by a complaint about the three-day Harvey Norman sale last weekend at the Recreation Centre.

David De Long said it was "unfair and unacceptable" that the Nelson branch of the multinational retailer could use council property to "suck business out of Motueka" for a few days when local retailers who paid rates suffered a consequent loss of business.

He told the board that fellow retailers he'd spoken with were furious about this action, and some who were already suffering in tough times were thinking about selling their leases next year if things don't get any better.

Asked if it was the visit by Harvey Norman or the use of council property for the sale which bothered him most, David indicated the former. But he said the same criticism would apply to the occasional use of Memorial Hall for sales days by other vendors.

Spending of River Rates
Arthur Walker questioned the community board, and the council staff and mayor attending the meeting, on when local ratepayers would get answers on how their $1 million-a-year River Rates have been spent on lower Motueka River over the past 15 years. TDC's Murray Staite said corporate services department staff were working on gathering and collating the statistics but it was a big job and will take some time yet, but he promised a report when this is completed.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne said the River Rate is spent across the district where needed for river flood protection and repairs, and over the past two years a series of extreme weather events meant that this has meant a lot of spending in Golden Bay and in the Upper Motueka River.

Protecting godwits
Shirley Frater spoke about the value which the godwits bring to our region and our responsibility to look after those which make Motueka sandspit their southern home. She asked the community board to help raise awareness among the community of the importance of these birds and the need to ensure they are safe and welcome.

Library improvements
Tara Forde said she and others were getting concerned that the library is now inadequate to handle the number of users, especially in summer, and needs more space, staff and resources to help make it a place for more information sharing, not just books, to ensure it helps reduce the "digital divide".

Board chairman David Ogilvie responded that spending on the library is being considered at present, but that there still were issues to be resolved over whether an upgrade to the existing building or a new building on another site is wisest.

Main projects for next year's plan
In his monthly report to the board, David Ogilvie suggested it was timely for board members to begin considering the 2013 2014 programme for the Council's Annual Plan.

"The Ten Year (Long Term) Plan has set the probable programme, but there is opportunity to review, to re-prioritise, and to confirm projects and activities," he wrote.

He made out his own list including his personal preference for 10 major projects, not in any particular order: Motueka Library development; Kaiteriteri Riwaka Road upgrade; Flood control for the Lower Motueka River; Review of the Motueka Ward Reserves Management Plan; Wastewater Treatment Plant proposed development; Cycle lanes, cycleways and the Great Taste Cycle Trail; Footpathing and kerb/channel extensions; Liaise with NZTA for a pedestrian crossing at The Warehouse, anda roundabout at Clock Tower corner.

He asked that as an exercise and considering the 2013 2014 Annual Plan looming, all Community Board Members prepare their own individual list for the 13 November Community Board meeting. A composite list could then be prepared for the board to use in its discussions with council.

Port Motueka Endowment Fund
As reported in August (see our story), a decision has now been made to ring-fence the endowment fund so that in principle the ways it can be spent are known. David's report suggests that "it may be appropriate for the Council to formally request ideas from the public, given some broad principles, prior to any final decisions or payments".

It was noted that the opening of the fund may now provide the opportunity to progress a proposal to develop and extend the port area for industrial purposes.

TDC says that any proposals will need to come with a sound business case, go through the annual plan process, and include extensive community consultation. Board member Cliff Satherley said it was his opinion that the Port Motueka Users Group should be the main people to be involved in the consultations.

Development Impact Contributions (DCs)
Last month's report on the council's policy on the use of DCs and the discussion which followed, brought out some issues which were again put to the Mayor and Murray Staite.

Using the Te Maatu subdivision as a good example, David Ogilvie said it seemed "immoral" that DCs collected by council from the developers presumably in order to pay for impacts caused by the development should then be spent elsewhere in the Tasman district, rather than the obvious need in this case to upgrade the run down Parker Street to handle the subdivision traffic.

"Should the DCs be ring-fenced and applied to the area and the infrastructure assets generated by the specific development?" he asked. It would be seen as a "financial contribution by the developer to offset and mitigate the impact locally of the development".

He said the DCs and the council's policy on applying them could be an item in the Community Board's consideration of the 2013 2014 Annual Plan.


Comment by William Cleaver:
[Posted 13 October 2012]

Not only do Harvey Norman TV adverts get up my nose but it appears they have stuck it up the local retailers also. I am torn between both factions as during their visit we had a boomer of a weekend with extra custom throughout both days [at Resurgence Coffee and Retronic].

Mind you, we are open 7 days a week, later on Friday and till two on Saturday and Sundays. This is where I feel the local retailers have let themselves down. What happened to late nights and Saturday shopping? Gone are the days when on a Friday night you could shop the town, the owners would welcome you in the door and have a chat about the week and the weather or whatever. It seems that customers have just become customers.

It is said that we must support local but if a local retailer doesn't support a local what's the point, we may as well buy cheap elsewhere. Well done Jody for having the insight to support your local community.

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