Summary of 2009 – 2019 Northland Regional Council - Northland Community Plan.
Attending the submission hearings on Thursday 21st May and Friday 22nd May 2009 was not only informative but a great opportunity to experience firsthand the efficient process carried out by the staff and councilors of our Northland Regional Council. The rules were hard and fast; times were restricted to the ten minutes allocated, there was to be only questions in relation to the submissions and there was to be no statements made or the entering of debate by councilors. I applaud Chairman Mark Farnsworth for the control he exercised during the process and the friendly way in which any stepping outside the boundaries was challenged. The chair stood away during a potential conflict of interest item, with Deputy Chair Ian Walker handling the proceedings during that time. Conflicts of interest were declared at the commencement of the day and during times of the interest the councilors well and truly did not get at all involved. There was definitely great self control as submissions on some of the more hot topics were presented. Top marks to those councilors from refraining from these sessions.
Lets now in my opinion address some of the interesting points raised;
Rescue Helicopter Services in Northland funding - The pros far outweighed the cons as submissions were presented by pilots from previous and current missions, by senior doctors who attend to the patients brought in, by the ambulance personnel and by medical professionals in the Health Authorities. The capabilities of the current helicopter proved to be totally suitable for the Northland Region when highlighted and the reasons why the choice of the machine being finally understood.
River Management was a topic that also portrayed the advantages of the continuance of these projects. Flooding has and still is a serious problem that affects many in our districts and must be at the top of our priorities. Mangroves were a problem in many areas causing silting of harbour areas and retaining water resulting in having properties at the risk of flooding. Some would like to see them culled out but that is for the authorities to decide on.
The dredging of the Hatea River providing its availability to the increase of larger craft entering and bringing much needed dollars to the area of Whangarei.
Most take the extraction of minerals as uninteresting and only applicable to diamonds and gold. One submission emphasized that Northland had an abundance of minerals waiting to be extracted and further the wealth of our region.
A most interesting fact during a submission on Stock Effluent Disposal Facilities was the risk of not only the inconvenience of having to refill the windscreen washer bottle after following a stock truck, but the potential more of a bio security risk with the spreading of disease as other countries had been devastated by.
New Council Controlled Organisations and the sharing of services highlighted the cost effectiveness of the introduction of such.
The message was loud and strong in regards to the protection of waterways and our harbours with zero tolerance being the only answer and the asking of the Regional Council to ensure the environment was to be protected.
Many valued clubs, groups, and associations were asking for much needed help to ensure the future of their services being available to society. It is obvious that the sponsor dollar is becoming less and now these people have to look at other ways to gain incomes including help from councils with ratepayer’s assistance. An avenue that has many varied comments forth coming to these possible applications.
The Events Centre again received much criticism, the feeling that people were still festering over the way things had been done and how some of the codes were now being treated after construction as the involvement of these groups was instrumental to its initial approval.
Marsden Point Rail Link was the receiving of many comments and the importance of its development for the local economy.
The Port shares appeared to really come through the process fairly well unscathed as I believe many did not have sufficient information to make comment on this item.
Mixed reaction to broadband, but it is probably not understood by many who have no inclination or access to computers. Realistically we must improve these services if we want Northland to be home for both local and international businesses and must ensure advancements are made to accommodate the needs.
The reliability of the supply of and affordable cost of electricity to our region was discussed briefly as the reality of power cuts taking away the requirements of many where the flick of a switch is a god given right.
We can only hope that after hearing the many quality submissions that the ink on the draft plan is far from dry and changes will rightfully be made according to some of the valued wishes by our people.
Overall the two days were interesting, informative and increased our vision on the many varied topics that affect our region. It was most pleasing that Chairman Mark Farnsworth spent the whole two days present listening to the opinions of the citizens who had taken the time to participate in the Northland Community Plan process. Top marks. The staff were not only professional but most pleasant and hospitable to the many that circulated through the public gallery over the two days. It was a great opportunity to become more familiar with the faces normally only seen on election garb every three years while we all chatted over a tea, coffee and biscuits during the breaks.
We sincerely look forward to the next round and wait eagerly to view the changes made to the 2009 – 2019 Northland Regional Council - Northland Community Plan.