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.

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing carparks on the main road through Renwick could sink their business. Photo: Matt Brown.

Battle lines drawn over parking plans

Angry Renwick business owners fear they could be left counting the cost of plans to replace parking spots with planter boxes.

A Marlborough District Council initiative to put concrete planter boxes on Renwick’s main street has local businesses up in arms.

At a charged meeting between several Renwick business owners and council staff on Wednesday, business leaders voiced fierce opposition to the idea.

The meeting followed a flyer drop by council staff detailing the plans to local businesses, but owners say they feel “ambushed”.

Initial plans saw the busy thoroughfare losing more about 14 car parks, but a revised option was presented to the nine Renwick business owners at the meeting, at the Renwick Roadhouse Café, where about four parks would be removed.

Renwick Roadhouse Café and Bar owners Kristine and David Hudson say losing a single 10-minute carpark from the street could cost their business upward of $20,000 a year.

“The business is our livelihood,” Kristine says.

“We’ve been here nearly nine months and we only heard about it the other day.”

“The issue is, we need more carparks, not less.

“Boaties on the way to the Sounds – if they can’t get a park, they keep driving,” Kristine says.

Council bosses says the idea was to help cut speeding through the town.

Metal planters were placed along the busy street in the past year but were removed due to vehicles crashing into them.

Marlborough District Council community advisor – Marlborough townships Adi James says the plans were revealed at a Smart and Connected gathering about a month ago.

But the initial idea was first put forward a few years ago.

Originally, Adi says plans were to line the street with large trees, however, that plan “stalled”, she says.

The latest proposal would help save money by “piggy backing” on current works fixing pipes along High Street.

Kristine says business owners are “sick” of the ongoing work along the streets.

She says the roadworks are costing her about $2000 per week in lost sales.

Adi says there is still the option to not go ahead with the project, but it is an “opportunity worth exploring”.

“There were some benefits with piggybacking,” she says.

Liquid Action owner Matt Broughan says the changes could potentially cost his business up to $50,000 a year in lost sales.

“It’s got a huge effect on local businesses,” Matt says.

“We’re all a bit blown away with it.

“To rush it through to save $100,000 – it could cost us much more.”

Matt says once the concrete planters are in, there’s no going back.

“We need the car parks desperately.”

Matt says he loves working in

Renwick and being a part of the community, but the consultation process surrounding the
proposed plans in Renwick was lacking input.

His “bottom-line” at the meeting was “no loss of car parks”.

“I’ve had a kick up the arse,” he says.

“I should have listened, but I’m prepared to put a positive effort in.”

The Porse building in central Blenheim. Photo: Matt Brown.

High rise apartment plan in jeopardy

Plans to tackle Blenheim’s growing number of empty shops by building town centre apartments have met with mounting opposition.

Consents to turn the second and fourth levels of the Porse building, on Market St North, into eight residential apartments are being considered by council.

But stiff opposition from surrounding businesses means the plans may be scrapped before the project even gets started.

A bevy of Market St businesses expressed their opposition to the inner-city apartments at a hearing at council yesterday.

Concerns of ‘reverse sensitivity’, increased traffic and the removal of car parking and loading zones were put forward by former deputy mayor and owner of the Biddy Kate’s Irish Bar Terry Sloan.

Several other businesses have joined Terry’s official objection, causing the consenting process to grind to a halt while a hearing in front of the council’s resource hearings commissioner was held.

Bikefit, Lighting Plus, Caci Clinic and Community Law added their voice to Terry’s, citing fears of increased traffic and parking problems.

In his initial submission, Terry says he was worried the normal operating noise of the bar and cafe could prompt complaints.

A bar has been operating in the Criterion building for more than 100 years.

It currently has a license to operate until 3am seven days a week.

The apartments at the Porse building, 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.

In evidence submitted to council, TH Barnes & Co Ltd director Jason Barnes says they had to reconsider the best way to utilise the building.

“Development of large format retail centres outside of the Central Business District such as the Westwood development in Springlands and a Mitre 10 store in Redwoodtown, has resulted in empty shop space in the town centre,” Jason says.

“Shop space in our building has suffered particularly badly due to its location on the periphery of the Central Business District.”

He says apartment living has traditionally been more of the domain of the larger cities.

“However, with a range of pressures on accommodation, changes in lifestyles and changes in perceptions and attitudes, apartment living is becoming an accepted, convenient and affordable living option for some people in smaller town centres.”

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.

“Our proposed development will help revitalise a town that has suffered from loss of government and corporate offices to larger centres and to loss of retail shops in the town centre,” Jason says.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett has been elected again Photo: Matt Brown.

Mayor wants communication to be key

Marlborough’s newly elected mayor has pledged to make public communication key as he gets set to start his second term.

John Leggett has emerged victorious by a landslide victory of about 3000 votes.

And he has been quick to make assurances that concerns raised by the public throughout the election process will be addressed.

Speaking from his Blenheim home shortly after his win was announced, mayor Leggett says he is “very happy” to have been chosen again.

He also paid credit to his opponent and re-elected councilor, Jamie Arbuckle.

“Jamie came out of the starting blocks very well and campaigned well. I always knew it was going to be a battle to get out there.

“It’s been a bit of a nervous wait, especially when it got to 2pm and there was no phone call. I began to think no news was bad news,” he says.

It was down to the wire today as last-minute voters cast their ballot just before the cutoff point of 12 noon.

Mayor Leggett celebrated on Saturday night with partner Anne Best at Biddy Kate’s Irish Bar, owned by friend and former deputy mayor Terry Sloan.

He was also joined by some council colleagues.

“She’s been a fantastic support, far and away the best supporter I have,” says John.

He also revealed the election has shown him the importance of public engagement.

“The election process always brings out good public engagement as people put down issues they want us to address- a lot of which we are.

“One thing we need to do better is communicate and let people know what we’ve got on the agenda,” he says.

Jamie Arbuckle missed out on his third try at taking out the top spot.

He says he was “really disappointed” not to take the council’s top spot and ruled out a future bid.

“We put a lot of effort into the mayoralty this time. I’m personally disappointed; I thought we had the numbers.

“It was our third attempt and last attempt – we tried our best,” he says.

Candidates Thelma Sowman, wife of former mayor Alistair Sowman, and David Croad have been successful in their bid to take up councillor posts.

They will be a welcome addition, says mayor Leggett.

“There have to be vacancies to keep the way clear for new people coming in, that’s a good thing we need new, blood and good people.”

Electoral officer Dean Heiford says Tuesday is the cut-off date to send votes using the postal service. Photo: Glyn Walters.

Low vote numbers as deadline date looms

Marlborough’s electoral officer hopes to see a turnaround in low voting levels as the cut off date draws closer.

Lackluster voting in Marlborough has seen the number of people returning their ballot so far sitting at around just 25 per cent.

But Marlborough District Council electoral officer Dean Heiford says he expects to see numbers rise as the deadline approaches.

Latest figures from the election management company used to count votes across the region have revealed low return numbers do far.

Statistics from Christchurch-based business electionz show the first postal votes came in on 24 September.

Out of 34,026 electors in Marlborough, 22.8 per cent had returned their vote by Monday evening.

This compares to 29.59 per cent for the same period during the last local election.

Dean says early return rates are a bit lower in Marlborough than they were in 2016.

But he says the final turnout figure could yet increase substantially.

“However, early returns don’t determine the final turnout. In 2016 the early returns for New Zealand were lower than in 2010 and 2013, but the final turnout figure was higher”, he says.

NZ Post have dedicated extra resource for local elections, however postal days, offices and boxes have declined in the last three years.

Dean says people should be aware the last posting date is Tuesday 8 October.

“After Tuesday please drop off your voting envelope at the Council office in Seymour St, Blenheim or the Picton Library and Service Centre,” he says.

If you haven’t received your voting papers, contact your local electoral officer. Email [email protected] or Ph: 03 520 7400 before 5.00 pm on Friday 11 October.

Voting closes on Saturday 12 October at 12 noon.

Blenheim ward candidate Cyril Dawson is making a second bid to be elected on to Marlborough District Council. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Candidate’s bid to sway voters as election date looms

Blenheim ward candidates have made a bid to sway undecided voters as the cutoff date for voting edges closer.

With less than two weeks to go until voting closes for both Marlborough District Council and Nelson Marlborough Health, council candidates spoke to an audience of Grey Power members.

Around 50 members were at the Wesley Centre in Blenheim on Thursday to hear firsthand why each candidate believed a vote for them was the right one.

Pete Watson was missing from the line-up as he attended his father’s funeral.

But Tony Norman, who nominated Pete’s candidacy, stepped-up on his behalf to deliver the key points, including reining-in rates and better town planning.

“By my analysis he’s a thinker, a leader in his own way, got good ideas but very importantly he’s not afraid to speak up.

“He will I believe, poke his head above the parapet and challenge any bad decisions,” he says.

Each candidate was given two minutes to outline policies and give the audience some background information about themselves.

The majority spoke up for revitalisation of the central business district and also for protecting the environment.

Cyril Dawson, who’s campaigned under the slogan ‘Grassroots Ratepayer’ spoke candidly about his bid to support people on lower incomes.

“I’m a bit peeved about how our money is being spent. I open my own rates bill and think ‘fudge cakes.’ Council has to prioritise where our money is spent,” he says.

First time candidates such Deborah Dalliessi, Matt Flight, Gerry Roodakker, and Meg Martin spoke passionately about the changes they wanted to see.

Gerry says he was standing in a bid to repay the support he has been given over the years.

He says that now he is retired he has ‘all the time in the world’ to help.

“The reason I am standing is to give back to all those people who have supported me throughout the years.”

Mayoral candidate and current councilor Jamie Arbuckle was greeted with strong applause as he outlined his plans.

“I will actually stand up and argue for you the people,” he says.

He added that while he was the youngest candidates, he was also one of the most experienced with nine years of experience.

First time candidate Deborah Dalliessi spoke about her passion for helping.

“My passion is aging well. If you elect me, I will go beyond the call of duty. I have had the privilege of seeing what it’s like to age … I ask you to vote for a strong woman and a strong advocate for you.”

The session ended with candidates answering questions already given to them by Grey Power Marlborough members.

Voting closes on 12 October at 12pm.

Project coordinator Alec McNeil is overseeing a nationwide initiative which could see people paid to recycle. Photo: Matt Brown.

Cash for trash

Marlborough could help lead the way in a national bid to help boost recycling levels.

The council’s solid waste manager Alec McNeil will oversee a pioneering project which could see people paid to drop off empty drink containers.

And he believes Marlburians will be quick to take up the initiative.

“Marlborough is used to source separation of recycling so the possibility of a future Container Recycle Scheme (CRS) should complement and add to our existing approach,” he says.

Council's solid waste manager Alec McNeil believes Marlburians will be quick to take up the initiative. Photo: Matt Brown.
Council’s solid waste manager Alec McNeil believes Marlburians will be quick to take up the initiative. Photo: Matt Brown.

Under the scheme, which was unveiled last week, plastic, glass and aluminium drink containers will carry a refundable deposit, potentially between 5-20 cents each.

Helping people cash in on their empties could be key to boosting recycling levels.

Alec says he believes any initiative would rely on being readily available.

“A key focus of the design will be ensuring equity of service provision across NZ that affords all communities the opportunity to engage with the system,” he says.

“At a more strategic level a CRS changes the way we think about containers by reintroducing a value back into the material”.

Marlborough and Auckland councils will carry out the project design together following a government funding boost of almost $1 million.

Alec, who is project coordinator and deputy spokesman is a trustee on the Agrecovery Foundation Trust Board.

He says the scheme will help keeps useful resources out of landfills and has the potential to create new jobs.

The two councils will work with the Ministry for the Environment and others including the beverage, packaging and recycling industries, councils, retailers, charitable organisations, Māori and consumer representatives.

The application was initiated from involvement with the National Resource Recovery Group (NRR).

The NRR was convened by the Ministry for the Environment to consider a response to the recycling challenges facing NZ.

“In lieu of the contraction of markets particularly post the ‘National Sword’ policy implemented by China,” Alec says.

China has introduced strict rules around importing solid wastes as raw materials. The policy bans various plastic, paper and solid waste.

Alec says a CRS scheme would impact on material flow.

“Auckland and Marlborough councils offered to submit an application to the waste minimisation fund to facilitate a working group that would design a CRS for NZ.“

A final design is due to be presented to the Government by August 2020 and rolled out in 2022.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett with retiring deputy mayor Terry Sloan. Photo: Supplied.

Trio of council stalwarts bid a fond farewell

They clocked up an impressive 27 years of service between them and were each given a resounding round of applause as they officially retired from local politics.

Clapping and cheers rang out in council chambers as a trio of Marlborough District Council members were officially recognised for their contributions to the region.

Marlborough’s deputy mayor Terry Sloan, Wairau-Awatere ward councillor, Geoff Evans and Marlborough Sounds ward councillor Trevor Hook were bid a fond farewell from their council colleagues.

And Marlborough Mayor John Leggett paid a tribute to each, thanking them for their hard work and dedication.

Terry, who served two terms as deputy mayor and one as a councillor, says the moment was quite an emotional one.

Speaking to the Marlborough Weekly on Monday, Terry says he couldn’t rule out a return to council later. But concentrating on his family and business was a top priority, he says.

“It’s about offloading quite a bit of work and commitment,” he says.

“Doing that enables you to spend a bit more time with family and work.”

He says most of the memories from his nine-year tenure were good ones, but he will “miss the information”.

“I’m a bit of a nosy bugger,” he says. “I like knowing what’s going on, but that’s not life changing stuff.

“I’ll miss everyone that I was involved with. I built a lot of friendships and relationships.”

And although Terry only willingly donned his deputy mayoral chains twice, he won’t officially hang them up until election day.

He says the deputy mayoral pendant was designed for former deputy mayor and now councillor Jenny Andrews and didn’t “suit him”.

“It’s not something I hung out to wear,” he says.

Terry says getting a position like deputy mayor is impossible without a lot of people throwing in their support.

“Thanks for all the support that I’ve had,” he says. “It’s really humbling.”

Both Geoff Evans and Te Mahia Bay Resort co-owner Trevor Hook also served for nine years.

Q&A with councillor Mark Peters

Councillor Mark Peters is seeking a second term standing for the Blenheim Ward- he has a lot he still wants to achieve.

What prompted your decision to stand for council and was it a difficult decision to make?

I have a lot of unfinished work from having served just one term and believe I can make worthwhile contributions in a second term. It wasn’t difficult to decide to do so.

If successful, what matters the most to you in terms of what you would like to achieve for the community?

Really good financial governance is important to me. I cannot abide waste or unnecessary expenditure. I want to see a vibrant CBD in Blenheim, wise use of our precious resources, appropriate care for the environment, really good post-secondary options for our young people and economic growth to help all Marlborough people.

I want our rates to be fairly set with minimal rises and spent wisely for the best possible outcomes.

What areas do you feel council needs to refocus its energies on?

This past term has seen a well settled and committed Council. So, with a number of new faces to be welcomed in the next term it is important to continue an environment where everyone is able to say what they feel, debate issues strongly but accept collective responsibility for democratic conclusions reached.

We need to ensure completion of our programmes of capital works on budget and to make real inroads into mitigating factors in climate change. We must ensure we have great facilities and sustainable resource use to hand over to future generations.

What makes you proud to be a Marlburian?

Not only does Marlborough have outstanding natural beauty, great resources and some world class products, the people here are kind and inclusive. We tend to deal with things pragmatically, even if we have different views and we like to give everyone a fair go.

People have a lot of choice in who they vote for, why should they vote for you?

Because I care about this place and its people. I have many years of practical governance experience and hold a number of financial qualifications. I am totally committed to making Marlborough an even better place to live in and believe I can make a difference.

 

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett opened the Seddon water treatment plant in March. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Tap water woes over

After decades of boiling water households in Seddon have been given the go ahead to drink straight from the tap.

Residents have been given the all clear to stop boiling their drinking water, unless they’re making a cuppa.

The milestone move comes after the opening of a multi-million-dollar water treatment plant in April.

Marlborough District Council bosses yesterday revealed they had finally been given the all-clear from the Ministry of Health.

Council Chief Executive Mark Wheeler said this was a monumental milestone.

“Being able to turn on the tap and fill up a glass of water that’s safe to drink is something this community has been waiting a very long time for.

“Today, that day has finally come,” he says.

“I’d like to thank all of those involved in the treatment plant project over the years, particularly the Awatere Seddon Water Group, who worked tirelessly to bring it to fruition.

“Council’s water engineering team – Stephen Rooney, Stuart Donaldson, Mark Power, Erica Hobbs, and Robin Millard, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board staff, along with many others who put in the hard yards to deliver a world-class, modern water treatment facility.

“It’s great to see the community of Seddon benefitting as a result of everyone working together in a spirit of cooperation.”

Efforts to provide safe drinking water from the tap in Seddon have been underway since at least 1975.

From the outset, council and residents had to wrestle with the cost of modern water treatment for a small community.

Awatere Seddon Water Group secretary Liz Cleaver says the move is one more step on the road to recovery for the township.

“… our wee town is well on the way to recovery after the destructive earthquakes of recent years.”

Drinking Water Assessor for Nelson Marlborough Health David Speedy, acknowledged the huge effort put in by water treatment staff and technical advisors to collect and present the compliance information.

“The Council and community can be justifiably proud that this plant is working as designed and meets the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand,” he says.