The current issues:
Attracting people to Work, Live, Study and Do Business in Marlborough
While we have done well in encouraging people to visit Marlborough we have not done nearly enough work to attract people to work, live, study and do business in Marlborough. Why just convince people to come here for a weekend or week when we could instead have them spend months, years or even the rest of their life here.
More people and families means a greater rate payer base which will enable us to afford the services and infrastructure we want. More people and families also means more workers for industry.
I will set-up the activity of attracting people to Marlborough for the medium to long-term.
A Lean, Fit and Enabling Council
Council on the whole does a very good job but still has the view that it much reach further and further in to rate payers’ pockets. Council spending needs to be balanced against the ability of the community to pay. Rate increases need to be better kept in check starting next year with the long-term solution to managing the affordability of rates being attracting more people to our region.
I will work to keep rates increases within the rate of wage increases.
Exiting Residential Section Development and Commercial Property Ownership
The Council has long been a participant in the development of residential sections. This has been a point of real contention in the community. The Council’s rightful place is as regulator and enabler, not regulator, enabler and market participant. While the Council is quite right to maximise the return from its exiting land holdings it needs to ride the wave of the current property boom and use this as an opportunity to accelerate subdivision of all remaining sections in its Taylor Pass subdivision. This will at the same time provide the market with much needed extra sections.
The same argument applies to the Council’s involvement in property ownership in the CBD. After executing upcoming logical property transactions the Council needs to quit its non-strategic holdings in the town centre.
I will endeavour to see Council returning to its rightful place in the property market of regulator and enabler.
It now looks likely that the Theatre will require $10M dollars of capital funding from the rate payer and a weekly operating grant of $7,500. Had we known this at the beginning of the project then I can only think that a different decision would have been made. We have the Theatre now and the objective from a Council point of view needs to be to ensure community benefit, support the venue to be a key part of attracting conferences / events / shows, and to cap and over time reduce the operating grant required.
I will ensure that the Council plays its part to make the Theatre as successful as possible and over time reduce the rate payer subsidy required.
The issue of a bypass being constructed to help alleviate the traffic pressure through the middle of Blenheim is very topical at present. Any decisions on this firmly rests with Government. I am of the view however that there is a strong argument to have heavy vehicles bypass town. Also I am sure that for many ferry passengers they may be more tempted to stop in Blenheim if they weren’t feeling a sense of being ‘pushed though’ in a long line of ferry traffic. A logical option would be a tolled road which would see the bypass become more economically feasible with heavy vehicles and those that are quite determined to avoid Blenheim happy to pay, while others who want to see Blenheim happy to take the road in to town.
I will advocate to Government that we want a solution that reduces the burden on Blenheim of traffic passing through the town while at the same time encouraging those that want to visit our region to do so.