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Board chairman's report slates TDC decisions

March 21st, 2016
[by David Armstrong]

Community Board chairman Paul Hawkes (pictured) has strong criticisms of several Council decisions and policies in his report to be presented at the Board meeting tomorrow.

The chairman's report shows continuing, deep disappointment with the treatment that Council gives to Motueka around issues including freedom camping, security cameras, car parking and litter cart funding.

Freedom camping
He says Council needs to take freedom camping issues, especially at the Motueka hotspot of the Saltwater Baths and campground, with North Street, more seriously.

"Over the last few weeks, my phone has been constantly ringing with calls and texts of frustrated North Street residents and concerned ratepayers, with serious concerns surrounding the Council bylaw on freedom camping which is being abused," he says.

"People have been abused and in several instances suffered threatening behaviour and abusive behaviour. When infringement officers have attended, very favourable results have been achieved, but this has been so infrequent that it is beyond belief.

"I have forwarded many texts to Council for record, but when is enough, enough? When will we, as elected officials have the fortitude to deal with an ever-increasing problem?

"I implore Councillors to grow the necessary equipment to make acceptable changes. Residential ratepayers deserve better.

"The [Motueka Community] Board insists that these hot spots be targeted heavily, and yes, if it means banning freedom camping from some locations, so be it."

CBD security cameras
Two separate camera types and uses are in operation, all linked directly back to the Police Station. While those in operation at Decks Reserve, i-Site, the public toilets and Kiyosato Gardens are Council responsibility, the remainder on High Street are not, and TDC has indicated it will not assist with maintenance costs.

"I personally think it a very narrow mind set of Council not to assist in contributing to ongoing up-keep of any camera systems, as sooner or later these "non-funded" cameras will be used by Police to assist prosecutions of people that will be involved in damage to Council property," Paul says.

"We are not seeking vast amounts of money. We were suggesting a total of $5,000 a year for maintenance and upgrades.

"The initial cost of installation of the ones on High Street have been met from private funding streams and I know some money can be raised externally from similar sources, but where does the line get drawn?"

At its meeting on 18th February, Council decided that the most appropriate funding source should be from the Our Town Motueka budget.

"The Council rates certain businesses in the Motueka Township to fund activities and services that benefit them," a Council spokesman said. "The security cameras are primarily for their benefit so that is where the funding should come from."

Paul Hawkes says this response "frustrates" him. "For a mere $5,000 per year, that would only be used in case of damage or failure, to be declined defies all belief.

"I personally can relate to the rationale behind the decision outcome, but the sheer kudos that would have been gained for Council from this being supported, far outweighs the backlash already being voiced.

"I will repeat what I am hearing ... "Again Motueka is being treated as a poor distant cousin by Council..." "If this was a request by Richmond, would there be the same outcome?" Paul thanks Cr Peter Canton who "put up a very valid case with vigorous debate for the supporting of our request and it is duly noted, he was the only Councillor to vote in favour of its acceptance".

CBD car parking
Paul's report notes that "the Board has been eagerly awaiting news on this review that has been forthcoming for 12 months".

"Can we have a timeframe for this review to be completed and can the Board have input into future car parking requirements?

"There is a drastic shortage of parking on the western sides of High Street and car parks have been steadily disappearing in the CBD. Council needs to be proactive and plan ahead for the growth that is exceeding all projections. To not plan ahead now is short-sighted and beyond comprehension."

CBD litter cart
The current funding for the operation of the Motueka litter cart operation has run out. Our Town Motueka has been picking up the tab for this whilst trying to seek outside funding and sponsorship, but to date, to no avail. Council has refused to contribute any money to see the continuation of the service.

"I find this an invaluable community service and do not wish to see the service discontinued. I have been in discussions with Our Town Motueka and have made an offer, to see the service continue, whilst also still trying for a permanent funding solution."

The Community Board meeting will be held at the TDC Service Centre behind New World, starting at 4.00pm with the usual public forum. The Mayor, councillors and senior Council staff will be present from 4.30pm to provide information about their 2016/17 Annual Plan, and say they will welcome comments about it from the public.

[Editor's note]

Subsequent to the publication of this article, Paul Hawkes sent the following (fair) request:
"For public information, as Chair of the Community Board, I do not wish the scheduled Board meeting tomorrow, to be consumed around debating the Council Plan or process. The Board has a huge agenda to manage. I have requested that Council staff return and attend our "open" meeting at TDC Service Centre in Motueka, 7pm on the 5th of April, allowing any members of the public to attend and sufficient time can then be devoted to the rightful discussions that it deserves. My concern is that at our meeting tomorrow, there will not be the time it rightfully deserves. In saying that, Council staff are making themselves available after their presentation, to meet with anyone on a one on one basis to discuss matters further.


Comment by Cr Judene Edgar:
[Posted 21 March 2016]

Of note, there was a request from Richmond last year for funding for cameras. It was also declined.

Comment by Paul Hawkes:
[Posted 21 March 2016]

Re: Judene's comments: It would be timely to ask was the request from Richmond a request for a camera system and at what cost, or simply for routine upkeep, as was the Community Board's request? Remember the cost of supplying and installation, for Motueka, was from private funding streams.

Comment by Don Grant:
[Posted 21 March 2016]

Keep making more noise Paul, and good on Peter Canton for trying to get something done about the freedom camping hotspots. It's a shame the other two councillors wouldn't stick up for their local ratepayers on this matter.

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