Marlborough District Council solid waste manager Alex McNeil at Blenheim’s recycling centre. Photo: Matt Brown.

Bigger bunker a boom for festive season

A giant new bunker used for recycled glass is open for empties – just in time for the busy festive season.

The Blenheim Resource Recovery Centre has nearly doubled its glass recycling capabilities thanks to a funds boost.

A $15,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum (GPF) plus $50,000 from Marlborough District Council paid for the new bunker.

Council solid waste manager Alec McNeil says that at this time of year the old bunkers would quickly full up.

However, by increasing the bunker size by 80 per cent, this should no longer be an issue, he says.

“The additional storage capacity for glass will ensure that the quality of cullet (recycled glass) being returned to O-I New Zealand (in Auckland) for processing is not compromised,” he says.

O-I New Zealand is the country’s only container glass manufacturer and uses recycled glass to make new bottles.

Glass must be sorted into clear, green and brown before it can be used to make new glass bottles.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says the centre plays an important role in getting cullet from the South Island to Auckland.

“Funding projects like this, which result in improving the quality and quantity of glass available for recycling is a main objective of the GPF,” he says.

The GPF has help fund other projects in Marlborough, including rural recycling containers in Seddon, Okiwi Bay, Awatere Valley and Oyster Bay, as well as the new recycling hub at Havelock Marina.

It’s hoped more staff on the ground will also help put an end to any anti-social behaviour. Photo: Supplied.

Ranger number boost in region

Extra council staff will be out over summer, doubling the region’s rangers.

Marlborough District Council got a funding boost of $183,610 to appoint two more rangers over the busy summer period, taking the total to four.

Rangers will visit camp sites and other spots to ensure things are running smoothly.

And it’s hoped more staff on the ground will also help put an end to any anti-social behaviour as they encourage people to be responsible campers.

Council’s reserves and amenities manager Jane Tito says there has been a big increase in the number of visitors camping at Marlborough’s responsible camping sites – up from 7,000 in 2016 to 12,000 in 2018.

“On top of the funding for additional rangers, council was also successful in getting funds of $25,000 from central Government’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund for a feasibility study on a long-term, sustainable approach to the management of responsible camping sites in Marlborough,” Jane says.

The study will also include consultation with iwi, the camping and motorhome associations and other interested groups.

Council’s Freedom Camping Bylaw 2012 was last reviewed in 2016 and the new review is scheduled to commence in July 2020, following the results of the study.

Charlie Chambers, 5, “loves” the massive Christmas tree in the Blenheim town centre, especially the “big, giant sparkly star”. Photo: Matt Brown.

Council splash out on big-budget baubles

Christmas cheer comes at a cost – as council staff reveal the price of decorations in the Blenheim CBD.

The 20-metre tall Chinese-bought Christmas tree was bought in late 2015, just in time for the yule season.

But four years on – the “faded” baubles have spurred council to sink more than $10,000 on new decorations.

Marlborough District Council reserves and amenities officer Robert Hutchinson says the region’s famously sunny weather is to blame.

“The display had lost its bite,” he says.

New baubles for the Christmas tree in the Blenheim CBD cost more than $10,000. Photo: Matt Brown.
New baubles for the Christmas tree in the Blenheim CBD cost more than $10,000. Photo: Matt Brown.

The tree, baubles and lights cost council more than $50,000 in 2015.

Robert says the red and gold baubles didn’t last as long as anticipated.

“The baubles should last five years,” he says.

“The red faded quite badly; the weather has these effects.”

Staff were hard at work last week putting the tree up in the town’s central business district where it got plenty of attention.

Blenheim man Simon Green says he liked the decorations.

“It is what it is,” he says. “[Council] weren’t going to get decorations from Kmart, were they?”

But Alicia Oliver was highly critical of what she thought was unnecessary spending.

“There are 135 homeless people sleeping rough,” she says. “Why spend money on decorations?”

“There are people without shelter or food.”

The tree itself has a 15-year lifespan, but Robert says so far, it’s standing up well to the punishing climate.

The 40 four-metre-long strings of blue and green baubles were purchased from Celebration Group, in Auckland, for $10560.

Robert says considering the length of the strands of bauble, 160 metres, the cost is “pretty small”.

“We could have put 20 strands on there, but it wouldn’t look very good,” he says.

The replacement decorations fall within the Christmas decoration budget, $20,000 per year for street decorations in Blenheim and Picton.

The budget includes an electrician and staff to wire and erect the tree.

Robert says they will watch and see the effect of weathering on the new green and blue baubles.

If they fade, he says council will look at new colours.

The 93-year-old former nurses’ home at Wairau Hospital is being demolished. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Nurses’ home gutted as demolition begins

Demolition work has begun on one of Blenheim’s oldest heritage buildings, spelling the end of an era for the local landmark.

Workers moved in on the derelict Wairau nurses’ home last week to start stripping out the interior.

Specialists will then be called in to remove a significant amount of potentially dangerous asbestos discovered inside the 93-year-old building.

The red-bricked facility in the grounds of Wairau Hospital has lain empty for almost six years, costing health bosses around $30,000 to keep the building fenced off.

Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair says work is expected to be finished by March next year.

The building has sat vacant for several years. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
The building has sat vacant for several years. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Around $1million has been earmarked to pay for the work.

“Demotion of the Nurses Home at Wairau will take place over the next few months.

“Initially a soft demolition will occur – which is the removal of things like carpets, doors, toilets, pipes and roofing iron. After that the bigger machines come to site to deconstruct the larger elements,” he says.

Concerns over asbestos and seismic rating issues meant the former home would cost too much to address accessibility and fire safety problems.

Nelson Marlborough District Board staff decided demolition was ultimately a better use of public health funds.

Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair. Photo: Supplied.
Nelson Marlborough health finance performance and facilities general manager Eric Sinclair. Photo: Supplied.

The building’s foundation stone will be kept and installed with other historic foundation stones.

There is nothing else nothing else considered salvageable, Eric says.

“There are no other features considered worth saving on the house as the building was utilitarian in its original design.

“From it’s opening in 1926 the building provided a significant home and workplace for many staff who hold fond memories and interesting stories.”

There are several options being considered for the site when it is cleared.

The land could potentially be used for expansion in the future.

“A number of options are being considered but there is no urgency to determine future use.

“It is important to note that the location of the old nurses’ home was determined as the zone where any future expansion of Wairau Hospital would occur when the site master planning work was completed prior to the rebuild of the Wairau hospital 10 years ago.

“So, any use of the location will need to be cognisant of this master planning,” Eric says.

Increased access to some east coast beaches is threatening the burgeon recovery of the quake damaged landscape. Photo: Matt Brown.

Council controversy over plan to ban drivers from beaches

A controversial bylaw which may ban drivers from beaches along a 45-kilometre stretch of coastline has been given the go ahead by council.

Marlborough District Council staff agreed earlier this week to draw up a bylaw banning drivers from the Awatere River mouth to the Ure River mouth.

The move comes after concerned residents implored council to take action to protect threatened indigenous species.

A bylaw restricting access to a 45-kilometre stretch of coastline has been given the go ahead by council. Photo: Matt Brown.
A bylaw restricting access to a 45-kilometre stretch of coastline has been given the go ahead by council. Photo: Matt Brown.

But the plan has “staggered” some of those who routinely use some of the access roads and beaches.

Council strategic planner Sarah Edmonds says increased access was hampering the recovery of the environment.

“There will be long-term damage if vehicle access continues.

In a report presented to council’s planning, finance and communities committee on Thursday, Sarah says the council has a “duty” to control vehicle access.

The report proposed cutting off beach access to vehicles, from Redwood Pass to Ward, and introducing a speed limit at Marfells Beach and Ward Beach, where boats could still be launched.

The bylaw would also restrict vehicles on unformed roads.

Marlborough Angling and Surfcasting Club president David Miller says he was “staggered” the bylaw was approved.

“I can’t believe it. They can’t close beaches off like that.”

David, who fished along the stretch at least 10 times a year, was also part of a group that cycled the coastline.

“Recently we cycled to the lighthouse and had a picnic. We were on the sand, so we were no damage to the environment.”

He had previously attended a meeting in Ward where members had discussed their concerns about quad bikes running over dotterel birds and their nests, before suggesting a vehicle ban.

“I said all beaches are legally public roads and that the council didn’t have the authority to restrict access to a beach like that.”

He would encourage the club’s 70 members to object during the bylaw’s consultation period, which had not yet been given a set date, he says.

A fisherman, who did not want to be named, said someone would end up “drowning or getting hurt” trying to access areas on their boat close to reefs, which were previously accessible on a quad.

“The new bylaw means you can only launch small boats from, say, Marfells Beach, but it’s rough there at the best of times.”

Forest and Bird top of the south regional manager Debs Martin said the news was received with excitment, but resignation.

“We know we’ll have another summer of damage along the shore in the interim, while the bylaw is being drafted.”

Councillor Cynthia Brooks says it was a “significant day” for the council.

“There’s a lot of history around vehicle use on the coastline, but it’s not the coastline it was three years ago, and it’s under threat.

“It’s one of the few wildernesses left in this country.”

LDR - Local Democracy Reporting

Biddy Kate's owner Terry Sloan. Photo: Matt Brown.

CBD apartment complaint quashed

A bar owner who feared a proposed apartment development would mean noise complaints has lost his bid to stop the plan going head.

Hotel owner Terry Sloan, whose pub, Biddy Kate’s, sits directly opposite the site of the proposed apartments, was worried future tenants would find it too noisy.

But a decision by a council-appointed commissioner found the pub, which includes an upstairs backpackers, was unlikely to be the target of noise gripes.

He highlighted that the pub was already able to operate with “noise sensitive activity” – its own visitor accommodation.

In his official decision, commissioner Julian Ironside says the decision rested on whether Biddy Kate’s would suffer unreasonable constraints from residential use of the Porse building.

“I recognise that permanent residents may have or develop different expectations in terms of a night-time noise environment,” Julian says.

“However, I do not consider that the establishment of residential activity in the Porse building is contrary to the expectations for the Central Business Zone or is incompatible with the business activities undertaken on the Criterion Hotel site.

“The issue of night-time noise is in my view adequately addressed by the refurbishment details for the proposed apartments.”

The apartments ranging in floor area from 62 square metres to 110 square metres, have been in the pipeline for building owners TH Barnes & Co since late last year.

Consents show vacant shop frontage on the street could be converted to a car parking garage and storage for each of the units.

The car parking garage entrance would require the loading zone on the street to be moved or removed.

Originally built for the Inland Revenue Department in 1987, the government agency downsized and quit the region shortly after completion.

Since then, the building has been largely vacant.

Council documents show TH Barnes & Co engaged a lawyer to draft a ‘Noise and Nuisance’ agreement that could be signed by both parties ahead of the development.

The documents were not signed by Terry, it says.

Plans for the apartment include double glazed windows to minimise sound intrusion and an acoustic engineer’s report found the apartments comply with the noise rule for residential activity within the CBD.

Deputy mayor Nadine Taylor being sworn in as Marlborough mayor John Leggett looks on. Photo: Matt Brown.

Deputy mayor sworn in

Marlborough’s new deputy mayor is officially ready to begin duties as second in command after being sworn in today.

Marlborough Sounds Ward Councillor Nadine Taylor was sworn into office by mayor John Leggett.

Wairau-Awatere Councillor Francis Maher was also sworn in and becomes Chair of the Regional Transport Committee.

It was an important moment for both, with the deputy mayor saying taking on the role was an honour and she was looking forward to working with a “great team.”

“For any of us to do our jobs, we have to be a part of a team. Looking around the table, I can see another great team already.

“We’re backed the most excellent staff.

“It was very easy for me to say yes to John when he asked if I would be his deputy mayor because I find him to be an excellent leader.

“I find myself to be surrounded by a great team – people in this building and at this table and I’m really looking forward to the next few years of working with you,” she says.

Nadine will also chair the Assets and Services Committee, overseeing the management of the Council’s big-budget assets and amenities infrastructure.

As the deputy mayoral chain was placed around her neck by Marlborough Mayor John Legget, Nadine says she welcomes the chance to fulfill her pledge to the district and its people.

“We live in a really special part of the world – our unique Marlborough Sounds and wild Cook Strait waterways, a very successful wine industry, and flourishing tourism, forestry and service industries.

“All of us fulfilling this pledge we made to this district and to our people.

“My background and experience gives me an appreciation of the importance of our primary producers, both land- and sea-based, who are key to the success of Marlborough. They are a big part of our history and the social fabric of our communities.”

“I will strive to be a connector between the Council and our communities, making sure people’s voices are heard in our decision-making, she says.

Originally from Awatere, Nadine went to Seddon School and then Marlborough Girls’ College.

For the last 21 years she has lived in Picton, and also for a time in Tory Channel, in the outer Marlborough Sounds. She has extensive business experience as an owner of a rock lobster fishing company.

She and her partner Graham have two adult sons.

It is family support that makes her role possible she says.

“Like any team, there’s always those that twirl away and don’t get seen and the offices and at home and I think on behalf of all of us I would like to acknowledge – my family’s sitting here and your families – because they are the ones that, as you race out the door, with everything streaming behind you, shut the door on the mess and the worries behind so that we can give service to the province.

It’s only right that we should acknowledge them as well.”

Mayor Leggett says he is confident in his choice for the deputy mayor role.

“Nadine has excelled in her role as a councillor over the last three years.

“We work well together and I’m confident she has the qualities to be outstanding in the role,” he says.

Havelock Marina is set to benefit from a new recycling hub. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Grant helps keep recycling shipshape at Havelock Marina

A new recycling hub in Havelock is helping keep the marina shipshape.

The new dedicated centre has been put in place by Port Marlborough bosses.

Thirty-five wheelie bins will now be ditched in favour of the hub which includes a custom-built container, access control and CCTV surveillance.

A $10,000 grant from the Glass Packaging Forum helped make the recycling centre a reality by covering the cost of the special container.

The grant, of $10,000, is in addition to investments already made by Port Marlborough.

Havelock's new recycling hub. Photo: Supplied.
Havelock’s new recycling hub. Photo: Supplied.

Port Marlborough’s Commercial and Marinas Manager Anouk Euzeby says the marina provided rubbish facilities in the form of 35 wheelie bins at the end of the jetties and launching ramp.

Recycling was limited to waste oil and aluminium cans.

“We operate three marinas in Marlborough: Picton, Waikawa and Havelock, and are progressively extending our recycling capabilities in each marina.

“In December, we introduced our first glass recycling skip bin in Picton Marina. We have now established this comprehensive recycling facility in Havelock.

“There are additional costs for us to provide these facilities but ultimately it is about doing the right thing for our environment, and furthering our efforts towards becoming a sustainable port, Anouk says

The new recycling container can accept glass bottles and jars, plastic, cans, and paper and cardboard.

“It’s the same kind of container which has been successfully used by the Marlborough District Council in its Rural Community Recycling programme,” Anouk says.

The Havelock Marina is the second largest in the region, providing 370 berths and storage for 175 trailer boats as well as providing berth, wharf and land-side facilities to service the aquaculture, tourism, forestry and barging operations in the Pelorus Sound.

Glass Packaging Forum Scheme Manager Dominic Salmon says funding projects which will result in new glass – which would not have otherwise been diverted from landfill – being recycled is a primary function of the Forum.

“Funding for grants like these come from the Forum’s Government-accredited product stewardship scheme.

“The Forum has more than 100 member brands which contribute a voluntary levy based on the glass they put into market, which is used to fund projects which improve glass recycling in New Zealand,” he says.

Council executives from left, Mike Porter, mayor John Legget, Mark Wheeler and Tony Quirk. Photo: Matt Brown

Modest pay rise for Marlborough councillors

Marlborough’s councillors are set to get more than $1.5 million in wages over the next three years.

Thirteen councillors got a small boost to their pay checks at an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday.

The elected officials had their base salary increased, from $38,610 to a flat $40,000 as the proposed changes were voted into effect.

And councillors who take on more responsibility will see more money in their bank accounts.

Money for local government officials is set as a lump sum by the Renumeration Authority, and “divvied up” to the elected positions.

The Marlborough region was allocated $583,467 for the year.

Marlborough District Council democratic services manager Mike Porter says council doesn’t have “a lot of say” about the amount of money available in the pool.

“It’s just how we’ve divvied it up,” he says.

Mike says now, sub-committee chairs are recognised for their hard work “slightly more than in the past”.

“It’s a lot more fair, but a lot more complicated,” he says.

“We’ve recognised all the jobs that councillors can do.”

The mayor, who is also chair of the environment committee, has a fixed salary set by the Remuneration Authority separate from the money pool.

He is paid around $135,000.

Only one councillor, Mark Peters, is a standing committee chair. The other two positions taken by deputy mayor Nadine Taylor and mayor John Leggett.

For taking on the deputy mayor position, Nadine Taylor is set to receive an extra $17,467 bringing her salary to $57,467.

“It flows down from there,” says Mike.

Eleven of thirteen councillors are on various committees.

Marlborough is at the bottom of all unitary councils – getting  $10,000 less than Nelson.

Councillor Gerald Hope says the Marlborough council has a “massive responsibility” over a much larger area.

“We are probably a discount council,” Gerald says.

Pic Cap, from left, Mark Rawson (EDNZ), Adi James (MDC) Alistair Schorn (MDC) Neil Henry (MDC) Trevor Hook (former councillor of MDC), Mark Wheeler (MDC), Pam Ford (EDNZ Chair) and Mayor John Leggett. Photo: Colin McDiarmid.

Council connections

Encouraging wellbeing and prosperity in the community has seen Marlborough District Council staff honoured for their efforts.

The Marlborough Smart+Connected Economic and Community Development Programme team has been recognised for their contribution to the region.

At an economic conference in Blenheim on Thursday, the Wellbeing and Prosperity Awards were revealed in front of former Prime Minister Rt Hon Helen Clark.

Economic Development New Zealand chair Pam Ford says Marlborough’s programme puts it at the “forefront” of growth.

“The impressive line-up of speakers covered a wide range of issues impacting on New Zealand’s wellbeing and quality of life,”

“One theme that came through strongly was the importance of investing in workforce training to improve productivity, rather than the traditional thinking of viewing staff development as a cost,” she says.

Economic Development New Zealand (EDNZ) is a not-for-profit group which champions organisations and individuals who stimulate economic wellbeing and inclusive growth.