Archive for June, 2008

Dorking in Surrey – a Rangiora Connection

30 June 2008

 

 

 

In the Rangiora Museum there is an unusual silver object which you probably wouldn’t want on your mantelpiece.

 

It was presented to the Rangiora Borough Council by the council of Dorking in Surrey in recognition of the large number of food parcels that were sent from Rangiora to Dorking in the late 1940s.  Britain at that time was still recovering from World War II and rationing was still in place.

 

Since that time, informal contact has been maintained between Rangiora and Dorking – Christmas cards get exchanged, for instance.  The last Mayor of Rangiora Borough, Dorothy Harris, visited their council during a private visit, as did I in 1994.  A Dorking councillor made contact while he was touring New Zealand about eight years ago.

 

Recently, Wendy du Toit of Rangiora has researched the relationship.  If you type Rangiora Dorking into Google you should be able to find her work summarised as a poster. 

 

Dorking in about 1959

Dorking in about 1959 

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The Council’s Budget Has Been Finalised: So What Has Been Cut?

29 June 2008

 

The “average” rate increase has been announced as 0.9%.  As you will see in a later post (some time this week), it won’t be as simple as that.

 

So what has been cut out of the long-term budget to achieve this?  The budget-cutting includes:

 

  • The delays to the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre and the Rangiora Water Upgrade have meant that they do not have much impact on this year’s rates.  They will, of course, affect the rates from July 2009 and the nature of the delay means that the worst rates impact may now occur in the same year (for Rangiora ratepayers).

 

  • No rural road sealing will be done unless the Council is committed to a sealing a road because subdividers have paid contributions towards it.

 

  • Deletion of new kerb and channel work in the major towns (Kaiapoi, Rangiora, Woodend, Oxford).

 

  • Deletion of bridge reconstruction projects.

 

  • Removal of $150 000 allocated for upgrading town centres.

 

  • Removal of $200 000 set allocated for the upgrading Rangiora Town Centre (cutting the budget by nearly one third).

 

  • Deferring for one year an upgrade of McIntosh’s Drain between Woodend and Kaiapoi for one year.

 

  • Deferring work on Feldwick Drain, Kaiapoi for one year.

 

  • Drainage deferrals for Rangiora: West Belt, Railway Road and Dudley Park.

 

  • Postponement of a Resource Recovery Centre at the Southbrook Transfer Station.

 

  • Downgrading of play equipment at Pearson Park, Oxford.

 

  • Reduced costs by increasing swimming pool entry charges and by increasing pensioner unit rentals by $5 per week.

 

Note that some of these cuts are permanent, but some are mere delays until another year.

What Is There to Say About Pegasus?

25 June 2008

Ten years ago I was submitting against it.  I didn’t think it was a good idea, for a number of reasons.

But Pegasus is a reality – it’s going to happen.  It is not in the interests of anyone in Waimakariri for it to fail – a half-built town would be a disaster for the rest of us ratepayers.  The job of the rest of the District, therefore, is to help it succeed and to integrate it with the rest of the District as soon as possible.  Sure, there are some issues to be worked on, such as the impact of the traffic generated by the town, but solutions will be found.

And remember that by the end of the year “us ratepayers” will include some Pegasus residents.

25 June 2008

 

Corners of Waimakariri: A Cold Front Approaches

24 June 2008

Despite this morning’s warnings from the Met Office, the southerly change didn’t amount to much down on the Plains – but it looked threatening for a while.

Why Do Councils Use Consultants?

23 June 2008

Residents sometimes get upset with councils’ use of consultants.  They are sometimes seen as expensive and lacking in local knowledge. It is often argued that council staff should have the expertise to do what consultants are engaged to do.

There are a number of reasons why consultants are used – any  or more of the following could apply in specific cases.  Some of the reasons are:

  1. The expertise required cannot be found amongst council staff.
  2. The job is too big for staff to have the time to do within the required time-frame.
  3. Independence from the council is being looked for.

An example of the third reason is when the Waimakariri Council employed consultants to review Transit NZ’s approach to some Woodend bypass issues.  An example of the first is when the Council employed a firm of architects to design a swimming pool and building for Dudley Park – the Council does not have architects on its staff.

As ratepayers, we can’t afford to employ staff to cover all areas of expertise.  Nor could we keep some experts fully occupied.

Sometimes councils are accused of running “bloated” bureaucracies. The choice, however, is often between employing new staff members or engaging consultants.  It comes down, as in many areas of life, to finding the right balance.

Where Does Our Fuel Tax Go?

22 June 2008

A correspondent in the Saturday 21 June Northern Outlook made the comment that “local politicians are silent at the outrage of Cantabrians paying to fund North Island infrastructure while congestion becomes so dire here.”

Well, in my experience, local politicians have been very vocal in trying to get our share of the cake.  A measure of that success is the recently-announced $33.5m over four years leading into $244m over ten years for spending on Canterbury transport infrastructure.  This will include the Christchurch Northern Access package which includes such projects as a new arterial road between Belfast and Marshland Road – connecting with the Northern Motorway at Chaneys and with northern Christchurch south of Queen Elizabeth II Drive.

This funding has been dependent on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy being agreed upon by the Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn Councils, along with ECan and Transit NZ.

The correspondent goes on to say that “the councils and Transit are planning to shred all their previous plans.”  Quite frankly, that is news to me.  The above-mentioned arterial, for instance, has been on the books since at least the 1990s.

Corners of Waimakariri: Ashley Community Church

20 June 2008

The former Anglican Church of St Simon & St Jude was opened in 1871 and was designed by the prominent colonial architect, B W Mountfort.  Historic Places Trust registered, it is now owned by a trust and is available for community events, as well as weddings, etc.

Rural Road Sealing

18 June 2008

Waikouru Road, Tuahiwi

Waikouru Road, Tuahiwi

One of the items cut from the long term budget in the coming year’s Annual Plan (starting next month) is the sealing of rural roads.

One justification given is that our remaining unsealed rural roads do not carry sufficient traffic to attract government subsidy. 

One can therefore ask, will they ever?  If the subsidy will not be available in the forseeable future, should the Council put up the planned amount of money and do whatever can be done with it?  The money will seal only about half of the length that could be done with subsidy, but perhaps some is better than nothing.

It is too late to do anything about the coming year, but it will be worth talking about for the next Long Term Council Community Plan, starting in 2009.

Rangiora Ward Advisory Board – Programme for the Next 12 Months

18 June 2008

What Are the Ward Advisory Boards?

The Ward Advisory Boards for Rangiora, Oxford-Eyre and Woodend-Ashley are appointed by the Council after a public nomination and selection process.  Their function is to advise the Council on matters pertaining to their wards.  They also have a few minor matters delegated to them for actual decision-making.  Their functions are similar to those of the Kaiapoi Community Board, which is directly elected.

For a list of the members of the three Ward Advisory Boards, see the page in the list on the right.

The Rangiora Board’s Programme 2008-09

Over the next 12 months the Rangiora Board intends to zero in on the following matters, as well as dealing with other things that come up all the time:

  • the Town Centre (the Council also has a working party about to resume work on this)
  • Recreational Reserves and Green Spaces
  • Creating an Environment encouraging People to Set Up Businesses
  • Transport Linkages and Alternatives Between Rangiora and Places to the South, i.e. Kaiapoi and Christchurch.

We will also be involved, along with the other Boards and the Council, in public consultation on the kerbside pick-up of rubbish and recyclables.

In 2009, we will be looking at whether Rangiora should have a Community Board.  This will be part of the review the Council always goes through in the middle year of the electoral cycle.   

Hardy Souls!

17 June 2008

Well done to the hardy souls who took the plunge for the Stroke Club’s Blue Day fundraiser today. With the encouragement of compere Geoffrey Hall, Waimakariri’s finest dived into icy cold water on a miserable day. There was representation from the Dudley Park Pool Fundraising Committee, Monteith’s, Rangiora Borough School, the Council, Robbie’s, the ANZ, JR’s,  and others – with help from the Rangiora Volunteer Fire Brigade.

And no, it’s not true that the pool is to be Rangiora’s new one!

Should Police Officers Be Able To Become Councillors?

15 June 2008

This hardy-annual question has come up again, with a report to Parliament from a Select Committee recommending that they shouldn’t. The MP with most to say on this seems to be NZ First’s Ron Mark, who used to live in the Waimakariri Electorate.

The argument seems to be around the view that those who enforce the law shouldn’t be in the position of making the law. This is one reason why serving police officers (like all other state servants), cannot be MPs.  Note, however, that any wage or salary earner has, in practical terms, to give up his or her job to become an MP – no-one would have time to do the two jobs.

Councillors are in a different position to MPs.  While there are by-laws, they come up on Council agendas very rarely.  When it does happen, it is an easy matter for a councillor to declare a conflict of interest and take themselves out of the discussion and voting.  In Waimakakariri’s case, Cr Robbie Brine (in his other life, a Senior Constable) is meticulous in doing this.

Robbie is a Waimakariri District Councillor and the Rangiora Community Constable.  It seems to me that being involved in the community as a councillor adds to his police role  and vice versa. 

So What’s This About Kaiapoi and Aircraft Noise?

14 June 2008

What is the controversy about?  Click on the page “Kaiapoi and Aircraft Noise” in the list on the right.

This page also contains some information on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy and the related proposed Change No.1 to Environment Canterbury’s Regional Policy Statement.

So It’s Come To This …

13 June 2008

Moving Stock on our Roads

12 June 2008

 

 The Council is currently revising its Stock Movement By-Law – partly because all by-laws around the country have to be revised within the next two years.

Stock movement raises interesting issues because it highlights the way our District has been changing.

There are still some “real” farmers out there and many of them have to move stock on the roads from time to time.  At the same time, however, the spread of 4-hectare blocks has increased the population density, and therefore the amount of traffic, in our rural areas.

Farming is still New Zealand’s major exporter and the Waimakariri economy depends on it.  Our rules have to be farmer-friendly.

We need to write a by-law that:

  1. Makes sure that motorists have sufficient warning of a mob of stock up ahead
  2. Ensures the safety of the stock and drovers
  3. Does not impose unreasonable costs on farmers

This is what a two-councillor hearing panel (Neville Atkinson and me) is currently working on.

An Interesting Story – But Does It Point to a Problem?

11 June 2008

On a recent Saturday night, the Police stopped a driver soon after he left a country pub, somewhere in Waimakariri District.  He turned out to be over the legal limit.  After he had been dealt with, the driver phoned a warning back to the pub.  The following morning, the Police counted about 20 cars that had been left overnight in the pub carpark.

One week later, only one was left overnight.

There is more than one possible conclusion that could be drawn from this.  It is worth noting, however, that in the first four months of this year, 17 alcohol-related crashes were recorded in Waimakariri.  In 2006 and 2007 the equivalent four-month figures were 8 and 7 respectively.

Country people die on country roads.

Pou Unveiled at Pegasus

10 June 2008

At an impressive dawn ceremony on Saturday 7 June, six pou were unveiled by Ngai Tahu kaumatua and whaea in the presence of a large crowd.  Collectively they make a stunning statement on the Main North Road entrance to the new town and remind us of the importance of this area to the Ngai Tuahuriri hapu and the Ngai Tahu iwi.

 

  

Rangiora on Saturday 7 June 2008

10 June 2008

The “Cheaper” Pool Option – what was wrong with it?

7 June 2008

Some of the issues were:

  1. The proclaimed cost did not include nearly $1.5m in additional costs – like the need to build a new pavilion for Dudley Park because the current one was going to be used as a plant room for the pool.  When these were added, the cost differences between the the two designs started to get very small.
  2. The offered pool did not meet the requirements of the design brief – a design brief that was the result of extensive consultation with the community and user groups.
  3. To have gone down the track of this option would have meant a new design brief that would also have had to have been offered to other architectural firms to tender for.  There was no guarantee that the promoters of the “cheaper” option would have got the job anyway.  Note that lowest tenders are not always accepted because other criteria, e.g. previous experience, are also considered. 
  4. The council is interested in the possibility of a “dry” facility attached to the pool: exercise space, aerobics rooms, etc.  The allowance for this in the “cheaper” option was too small and difficult to enlarge at a later date.

We Have a Pool for Dudley Park!

6 June 2008

 The Council has decided to put the proposed Dudley Park Pool into the Annual Plan for the year commencing 1 July 2008 (i.e. next month!).  This is the original Warren and Mahoney design that was put on hold after the elections.  The funding mechanism is that which was signalled in the Annual Plan (see elsewhere in this blog).

The voting around the Council table was 9-0, with the Mayor abstaining and Elaine Cole absent.

While the Annual Plan still has to to receive the final OK at a meeting towards the end of the month, this has always been a formality to confirm the rates, etc. that will be required to carry out the Plan.

From some of us comes a huge thank-you to a surprisingly-large group of dedicated residents who have worked very hard for this result.

 

We also thank all of you who signed the petition, made submissions, sent emails, wrote letters to the paper, talked to your friends, and whatever.  Without this huge show of public support, the four councillors who have pushed for this since the election (Robbie Brine, Dan Gordon, Kevin Felstead and me), would have been very much alone!

 

And now let’s all get behind this project and show how Waimakariri can raise a whale of a lot of money!

And watch out for Dudley the Dolphin!

The Three Water Schemes Are All Back on Track

6 June 2008

The Council has given approval for all three water schemes that they had originally put on hold for “up to two years.”

While the Summerhill well proved to not have sufficient quantity, investigation and consultation will now get under way again to find another source.

The Oxford Township water supply will now tap into the new source previously identified.  The Council was informed that if this didn’t get under way soon, a large government subsidy would probably be lost.

The go-ahead has also been given for the Rangiora supply to get water from a well-field near the Northern Motorway.  This, along with the other two schemes, was supposed to be waiting for a District Water Strategy.  It was, however, pointed out that there was no likelihood that a large supply like Rangiora would be able to get water from any of the small rural schemes and that no alternative source nearer Rangiora has been found.  The Council has been looking for one on-and-off for twenty years. 

Threatened Woodend Home

6 June 2008

I have obtained an interesting photo of Mairangi, the Woodend home threatened by the proposed Woodend eastern bypass.  It shows a wedding party outside it in 1905.  Also below is a more recent photo, taken in 1999.


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