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Outdoor Pools Open Soon for the Summer Season
20 October 2016
The first sign of summer is almost here, with the Todd Energy Aquatic Centre outdoor pools opening this weekend! Doors open from 7am this Saturday (22 October), and the community pools in Waitara, Inglewood and Okato will open on 12 November. The Fitzroy Pool will open on 10 December (weather permitting). “It’s a really fun time of the year because we’ve come through winter and people are eager for summer, and swimming in the outdoor pools is part of that,” says Manager Venues and Events Ron Murray. “The weather looks like it’s going to be reasonably good for Labour Weekend too.” To mark the coming summer, the aquatic centre has a special three-month membership deal of $150 for adults or $120 for students and seniors, which gives full access to the pools, sauna and fitness centre. This deal is available until the end of December. Todd Energy Aquatic Centre
New Governance Structure for New Plymouth District Council
19 October 2016
A new, simplified governance structure for New Plymouth District Council has been announced. A Performance Committee and a Planning Committee replace the previous Monitoring, Policy and Regulatory standing committees and the Finance Subcommittee. Other committees will focus on more specific areas of interest. “This new structure will keep things simple and help us as we look to demystify local government and encourage more community participation in council decision-making,” says Mayor Neil Holdom. “In selecting the members of each committee, I’ve tried to harness the diverse expertise and experience of the Councillors and place them where they will be the most effective.” The Performance Committee, which will be chaired by Councillor Richard Jordan with Councillor Marie Pearce as deputy, will monitor the Council’s performance and financial position and enable delivery of operational activities. The Planning Committee, which will be chaired by Councillor Roy Weaver with Councillor Stacey Hitchcock as deputy, will consider strategies, policies, bylaws and plans, and consider matters not provided for in the long-term plan, annual plan or other strategies or plans. Other committees are: Audit and Risk Committee chaired by Councillor Richard Handley. Community Funding and Investment Committee chaired by Councillor Harry Duynhoven. Accessibility and Aged Issues Working Party chaired by Councillor Murray Chong. Police Liaison Working Party chaired by Councillor John McLeod. Len Lye Committee chaired by Councillor Marie Pearce. The new structure and the appointments will be confirmed at the Triennial Meeting at 5pm on Tuesday next week (25 October).
Have Your Say on Draft District Plan
17 October 2016
Would you like to help shape our district’s working, living and environmental areas? Public comments open today (MONDAY) on the draft District Plan, the document that provides guidance and rules on how land is developed and used. “It’s through the plan that we manage things like how land is used and developed, where future housing areas will be, how vibrant our CBD is, and the effects and potential of industry,” says Group Manager Strategy Liam Hodgetts. “We’ve developed the draft District Plan with the help of key stakeholders and now we’re opening it up to the public for them to comment on the concepts of the plan. “Please look at our easy-to-read summary document and get back to us with your thoughts.” There are many elements within the draft District Plan, ranging from indigenous biodiversity and water bodies to traffic and transport and the rural production zone. However, the four key areas are: Central city and local areas: we want to keep these areas prosperous and attractive for businesses and the public. Residential growth: we want to provide enough housing to meet the demand for 1,000 more people per year for the next 10 years, and respond to our changing demographic profile. Managing industry: we want to ensure sufficient land supply and protect key industries from reverse sensitivity, providing certainty for investment. Coastal management: we want to make sure that activities do not affect the natural values of the coast, and that risk to activities from coastal hazards, such as storm surges, is managed. Mr Hodgetts says the current District Plan was written 15 years ago when the district wasn’t growing. “We’re a very different community from then and the new District Plan will reflect that. “We aim for it to be simple to use and easier to understand than the current one, and it’ll be digital so it’s easy to access for our community.” Have your say before 16 December by going to newplymouthnz.com/DPReview. Copies of the summary document are also available at the Civic Centre on Liardet Street, Puke Ariki and your nearest library and service centre.
Airport Manager Elected to National Board
11 October 2016
The manager of New Plymouth Airport now also has a national focus, with his election as a Director to the NZ Airports Board. Manager New Plymouth Airport Wayne Wootton is one of two members representing the country’s regional airports, with the rest of the board consisting of Directors from the five international airports and one non-airport representative. “It’s an opportunity to ensure that regional airports have a voice on the national stage regarding any issues that could benefit or adversely affect the industry,” says Mr Wootton. “I’m particularly interested in working with other board members to promote the role of airports in regional destination marketing, regional tourism and economic development.” NZ Airports is the not-for-profit industry association for New Zealand’s airports and related businesses. Its members operate 31 airports throughout the country, including air force bases. Directors serve for 12 months and are eligible for re-election.
08 October 2016
Voting has closed. The elections webpage will be updated over the weekend with the results: The preliminary result has been released. This result will be a combination of all posted and hand delivered votes. It excludes special votes. We expect the preliminary result represents 99% of the voter return. Special votes will be processed and counted early next week. An official declaration will be made by the Electoral Officer.
Draft District Plan Approved for Public Comment
07 October 2016
The public will soon be able to have their say on what New Plymouth District Council’s District Plan should look like. At today’s (Friday) Council meeting, the Draft District Plan was considered by the Council. The next phase will be to seek public comment, which District Planning Lead Juliet Johnson says will be the midway-point in the District Plan review process. The District Plan provides guidance and rules on how land is developed and used, and Mrs Johnson says the Council has so far been working with stakeholders on its development. “We now want to test the concepts within the draft plan with the wider community,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to discuss issues at this early phase and consider pragmatic solutions before we release the Proposed District Plan next year for formal consultation. We’re interested in feedback so we can shape the directions and start working on more detailed rules and zoning responses. “This draft plan is a comprehensive document with a lot of aspects to it. Most people in the district will be interested in or affected by the District Plan so when consultation starts, we want as many people as possible to read through our user-friendly summary guide and get their feedback to us. “They’ll be able to do this online or discuss any issues with a member of our review team.” The 30-year District Blueprint was approved last year, and 42 per cent of the initiatives in the blueprint will be achieved through the new District Plan. “The current District Plan was developed in the mid-1990s and became operative in 2005. We are a very different community from what we were back in 1995 and the new District Plan will reflect that,” says Mrs Johnson. The period for public comments will run from Monday 17 October to Friday 16 December.
New Railroad Crossing Being Considered for Calvert Road
04 October 2016
A proposal to build a formal pedestrian level crossing over the railway line at the end of New Plymouth’s Calvert Road will be considered by the Council at its meeting this Friday (7 October). A report to the Council recommends changing the 2017/18 Annual Plan to allocate $70,000 to build a suitable crossing at this site, following site inspections by KiwiRail and New Plymouth District Council. If the proposed recommendation is approved by both the Council and KiwiRail, for safety reasons the rail corridor will be fenced off until construction begins in 2017/18. Infrastructure Manager David Langford says the crossing would include pedestrian mazes, warning signs and an upgraded path from Calvert Road to Ocean View Parade. “There is no budget for this project and no external financial assistance available, so adjusting the Council’s Annual Plan is one solution for the funding,” says Mr Langford. Two other options are for the Council to approve the proposal with funding coming from the 2015/16 operating surplus, which would enable work to begin much sooner; or to permanently fence off the rail corridor at the end of Calvert Road. “The key issue here is the safety of the public, in particular those at higher risk such children or people with mobility issues,” says Mr Langford. “The submissions we’ve received from the public are overwhelmingly in favour of constructing a formal pedestrian level crossing and any new crossing will be designed to a high safety standard. “It is also important people take care when crossing any railway line. Only cross at a formal pedestrian level crossing, make sure you are free of distractions such as mobile phones or listening to music, and look for trains before you cross.” The detailed agenda report is on the Meetings webpage at newplymouthnz.com, and Friday’s Council meeting will be streamed live via the website.
Less than a Week Left for Local Elections Voting
03 October 2016
Voting in New Plymouth District is still the lowest it has been in 15 years – and there is less than a week left until polling day. After 10 days of counting, just 19.89 per cent of votes in the local elections have been returned, compared to 26.31 per cent at the same stage in the 2013 election and 33.04 per cent in 2010. Governance Lead Julie Straka reminds residents that postal votes must be in the mail by tomorrow (Tuesday) if they are to reach the Electoral Officer in Auckland in time to be counted. “From Wednesday, please hand-deliver them to either the Civic Centre in New Plymouth or a library and service centre in Waitara, Inglewood or Bell Block,” she says. All four Council buildings will be open this Saturday morning so that last-minute votes can be hand-delivered before the noon voting deadline. Voting stats after 10 days of counting: 2016: 19.89 per cent. 2013: 26.31 per cent. 2010: 33.04 per cent. 2007: 27.05 per cent. 2004: 33.34 per cent. 2001: 33.11 per cent.
Tuesday Deadline for Postal Votes in Local Election
30 September 2016
There is just one week left to have your voice heard in the local elections! However if you plan to post your votes in, the deadline is even earlier. “We strongly recommend that people have their votes in the post by Tuesday next week or they risk not having their votes reach the Electoral Officer in Auckland before the deadline at noon on 8 October,” says NPDC Governance Lead Julie Straka. “Any late votes can’t be counted.” After Tuesday, people can still hand-deliver their votes to the Civic Centre on Liardet Street, New Plymouth or to a library and service centre in Waitara, Inglewood or Bell Block. “However, we’d really like people to hand-deliver their votes by Tuesday so they are included in the progress result issued mid-afternoon on Saturday 8 October. “Hand-delivered votes received after Tuesday will be included in the preliminary results, which are expected to be released on Sunday 9 October,” says Ms Straka. The final election results will be confirmed later the following week. Special votes are available for people who: Are eligible to vote but their name does not appear on the electoral roll. Have their name on the unpublished roll. Did not receive their voting papers in the post. To arrange a special vote, please phone 0800 922 822.
Directors Named for PIF Guardians
29 September 2016
A broad range of financial expertise will feature on the new organisation that oversees the management of New Plymouth District’s Perpetual Investment Fund (PIF). On Tuesday (27 September) New Plymouth District Council confirmed the five Directors who will comprise New Plymouth PIF Guardians Ltd, which will begin operating in March next year. “We had a very high calibre of candidates – it wasn’t simple deciding on the five who have been selected,” says Chief Financial Officer Alan Bird. “We’re very fortunate to have people with significant national and international financial experience to guide our district’s ongoing investments, which will benefit residents for generations to come.” One PIF Guardians Director is current Taranaki Investment Management Ltd (TIML) Director Jamie Tuuta. Mr Bird says Mr Tuuta will provide valuable continuity between TIML and the new organisation. “We’re very pleased that Jamie has agreed to carry on with his role.” Between now and March the PIF Guardians members will write the Statement of Investment and Policy Objective for the fund, and select the outsourced agent for managing the PIF. The Directors of the PIF Guardians are: Mark Butcher (Chair) Mark is Chief Executive of the New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency, board member of Institute of Financial Professionals NZ (INFINZ) and director of Civic Assurance. His was previously Treasurer at Auckland Council, held senior trading and sales roles across derivative, interest rate and debt products at the National Bank of New Zealand and Westpac Institutional Bank, and also worked in the wealth management sector as Chief Investment Officer at Perpetual Capital Management and General Manager of Alliance Bernstein New Zealand. Kirsty Campbell Kirsty has broad experience in finance, regulation and law. She is currently a Non-executive Director of Simplicity NZ Limited (which launched the Simplicity Kiwisaver Scheme in August 2016) and Independent Chair of the Compliance Committee at Salt Funds Ltd. Her background includes leading or assisting on more than 20 initial public offerings on the AIM market while a corporate finance manager in London, and Head of Supervision on New Zealand’s Financial Market Authority. David Rae David is an experienced investor and director. Most recently he was Head of Investment Analysis for the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the largest fund manager in New Zealand. He was responsible for assessing investment opportunities, economic analysis and employing responsible environmental, social and governance processes for investments. He has been a Director and observer on the Horizon Roads Group (which owns the Eastlink toll road in Melbourne); and has previously worked as an economist at the OECD, the National Bank of New Zealand and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Tracey Jones Tracey was Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for Tappenden Holdings Limited, being responsible for funds under management, property, finance and operations of one of New Zealand’s largest private investment portfolios. She is currently a family office consultant, Director of Tutanekai Investments Ltd, Non-executive Director and Audit Committee Chair of Harmoney Corp Ltd (NZ’s first licensed peer-to-peer platform) and a presenter for the Private Wealth Network. She is a Chartered Accountant, member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and a member of the Institute of Directors. Jamie Tuuta Jamie is a Director of TIML. His other current roles include being a Director of Taranaki Whanui Limited, Tamaki Makaurau Community Housing Limited, Wools of New Zealand, Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd, Te Ohu Kaimoana Trustee Ltd and Taranaki Iwi Claims Management Ltd. He is also the Chair of Te Ohu Kaimoana Portfolio Management Services Ltd, the Maori Trustee of Te Tumu Paeroa, a member of the Public Sector Advisory Board, a board member of Tourism New Zealand and a trustee of Venture Taranaki Trust.
Probable Old Wellsite Exposed in New Plymouth
28 September 2016
What is probably an historic wellsite in New Plymouth has been exposed by a digger. Taranaki Regional Council, New Plymouth District Council and other regulatory authorities are investigating. Initial assessment shows there are unlikely to be environmental issues with the site. Further investigation is under way. NPDC Customer and Regulatory Solutions Manager Katrina Brunton says it appears to be the Devon-1 well on Seaview Road that was drilled in 1942 and abandoned as dry in 1943. “The digger has exposed what looks like the old well’s cellar,” she says. “Initial investigations show some drilling mud in the concrete sump and no apparent gas leaks.” The site is being cleared for development and NPDC will advise the developer on the process of developing a site with an abandoned well-head.
Disruption to Traffic During the New Plymouth Half Marathon
27 September 2016
The New Plymouth Joggers and Walkers Club Half Marathon is taking place on Sunday 2 October. Details are as follows: Date and time: from 8am to noon on Sunday 2 October. Affected roads: Rogan, Gover, Fillis, Liardet, Leach, Vivian, Morley, Barrett, Tukapa, Carrington, Upjohn and Somerset streets; Cutfield, Frankley, Hurworth, Carrington and Brooklands roads; and Coronation Avenue. Affected intersections: Liardet and Leach streets. Brougham and Vivian streets. Dawson and Vivian streets. Brooklands Road and Carrington Street. Traffic controllers and marshals will be at all intersections and along the route. Please show patience and courtesy when travelling on the above roads during this event. Please direct all queries to Traffic Management Solutions, Greig Bosley 027 254 0912.
Submissions Called On Waitara Lands Bill
26 September 2016
Now is the time to send your comments to Parliament’s select committee on the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill. The Maori Affairs Committee has called for submissions on the Bill, which aims to broaden the purposes for which the income from land leases and sales can be used and enable the freeholding of leasehold land. The Bill will also enable the transfer of the underlying titles of three Council reserves (totalling about 30ha) and the freehold titles to 13.2ha of residential land to Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust, plus the first right of refusal on Ranfurly Park and the Waitara Golf Club (totalling about 33ha). Most of the land involved is on the Peka Peka Block. Mayor Andrew Judd urges hapu, iwi, leaseholders and the wider community to get involved in the select committee process. “This Bill is a chance for people to have their voices heard directly by Parliament,” says the Mayor. “Please make sure to participate by making a submission.” Submissions close on Monday 7 November. Information on how to make a submission are online at www.parliament.nz, or through the Maori Affairs Committee’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MaoriAffairs. Following the select committee are three more Parliamentary stages: the Bill’s second reading, the Committee of the Whole House, and the third reading of the Bill. These stages could take about two months.
Council to Consider New Airport Terminal Building
26 September 2016
A bold new plan to create a striking architectural statement for New Plymouth Airport’s new terminal building will be considered by the Council at its meeting tomorrow (TUESDAY). The report to the Council includes the original plan to revamp the existing building as well as the new proposal for an entirely new terminal. Manager New Plymouth Airport Wayne Wootton says a new build would be quicker than redeveloping and enlarging the existing building, and there would be less inconvenience for airport users during construction. “There are other benefits that are worth considering too,” he says. “We’d be able to establish an architecturally iconic design that integrates the local cultural narrative. “We also wouldn’t be constrained by the shape and size, or the earthquake performance, of the existing building and we’d be able to make the best use of the terminal’s space for commercial leases – which will benefit the airport’s income. “Overall, the potential of a new build makes it worth having a hard look at.” Regardless of whether the new airport terminal comes from redeveloping the current building or building a new one, the cost will be met by the airport’s revenue through landing charges, car park fees, retail leases and advertising. Construction of either the new or revamped building is likely to begin in mid-2017.
Eligible Voters Urged to Get Involved in Election
26 September 2016
A record low voter turnout is on the cards for the New Plymouth District Council elections unless the early trend changes significantly. The first five days since counting began on 19 September have resulted in just 6.69 per cent of voting papers being returned, about half the amount of votes at the same time of the 2013 election. "2013 had a low voter turnout - just 51.11 per cent of eligible voters overall - but this election is looking to set a new low unless people get their votes in," says Goup Manager Strategy Liam Hodgetts. "Where I worked previously in Australia, voting turnout for local Council elections was above 70 per cent. "Local government, way more than central government, plays such an important role in people's everyday lives, directly influencing the liveability and sustainable of communities, so it is surprising for me to see such poor turnout numbers in New Plymouth so far. "We've also got some vital work coming in the next three years, including the review of the District Plan and writing the 2018-2028 Long-Term Plan. Who do you want to represent you at the Council table and on community boards when the future of our district is being mapped out?" Mr Hodgetts reminds people that the voting papers come with a booklet of information on all the candidates. "Vote for your preferred representatives and send your voting papers in as soon as you can, to make sure you don't miss the voting deadline." Voting closes at noon on Saturday 8 October. If you are posting your votes in, have them in the mail by Tuesday 4 October to ensure they are received on time. Voting papers can also be dropped off at the Civic Centre on Liardet Street, New Plymouth and at the Waitara, Bell Block and Inglewood library and service centres. Previous elections: 2013 election: 12.63 per cent return after five days; 51.11 per cent total vote. 2010 election: 16.33 per cent; 57.70 per cent. 2007 election: 12.77 per cent; 50.85 per cent. 2004 election: 16.66 per cent; 55.13 per cent.
First Reading of Waitara Lands Bill in Parliament
22 September 2016
Mayor Andrew Judd has welcomed the first reading of the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday). The Bill has now been referred to the Māori Affairs Committee. “It was particularly pleasing to see the Members of Parliament make a strong call for people to make submissions to the select committee,” says the Mayor. “I encourage people to keep an eye out for when the select committee calls for submissions so they can be involved in this process.” Mayor Judd described the reading of the Bill as a watershed moment for Waitara and New Plymouth District. “This Bill will help bring together hapu, iwi and the wider Waitara community for the benefit of generations to come,” he says. Select committees generally have six months to consider Bills. Following the select committee are three more Parliamentary stages: the Bill’s second reading, the Committee of the Whole House, and the third reading of the Bill. These stages could take about two months. Key parts of the Bill include: Leaseholders will receive a right to purchase the freehold title to their property, for the unimproved land value and administrative costs, with no time limit imposed. The freeholding right will continue even if the lease is sold. Leaseholders who do not exercise this right will be able to continue to rent their land. The funds from the leasehold land – both rents and proceeds from sales – will be put back into the Waitara community. The money will be divided between New Plymouth District Council and Taranaki Regional Council, and both councils have committed to investing the money back into the Waitara community. Some land in Waitara will be transferred to Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust, and the trust will have the right of first refusal on other blocks of Waitara land.
Proposed Donation Strategy for Len Lye Centre
21 September 2016
A proposal to increase revenue to the Len Lye Centre without affecting visitor numbers will be considered by the Council as its meeting next week (27 SEPTEMBER). A report to the meeting recommends the Council adopts a proactive fundraising strategy by encouraging visitors to the centre to make a donation via Paywave and eftpos. Manager Recreation and Culture Teresa Turner says an independent report on revenue generation by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre found that cultural facilities in Australia and the UK had a substantial drop in the number of visitors once they brought in entrance fees. However, there was significant potential for the gallery to develop its revenue through donations. “The Len Lye Centre has proved to be a magnet for visitors in the 12 months since its opening – 57 per cent higher than predicted – which has knock-on benefits for the wider regional economy,” says Ms Turner. “Our goal is to increase the centre’s revenue while also maintaining and growing its visitor numbers.” The gallery’s donation box received about $11,000 from visitors through passive donations in the 12 months to the end of July. Ms Turner says by actively promoting donations through Paywave and eftpos, donations are expected to rise to up to $100,000 per year. “That figure is based on the experience of charities, who find that people are more generous when they donate via eftpos, as well as on the number of visitors through the centre and an average contribution of $2 per visitor,” she says. In the first 12 months since opening in 2015, the Len Lye Centre had 151,000 visitors. The majority of visitors were from outside Taranaki (53 per cent), with international visitors comprising 12 per cent of the total. King and Queen Hotel Suites General Manager Daniel Fleming says: “Weekend business has never been busier and we’re seeing a lot more people visiting New Plymouth as a result of the Len Lye Centre, many of whom wouldn’t have come otherwise. “It is a fantastic addition to the city.” Data from Statistics New Zealand show that for total accommodation guest nights: Nationally, guest nights grew 5.3 per cent in the year to June 2015, and 5.8 per cent in the year to June 2016. In Taranaki, guest nights shrank 3.5 per cent in the year to June 2015 (before the Len Lye Centre opened) and rose 8.5 per cent in the year to June 2016 (after the centre opened). In comparing July 2015 to July 2016 in Taranaki: Guest nights went up 17.7 per cent to 43,122. International nights were up 36.4 per cent. Domestic nights were up 15.6 per cent. Average length of stay rose to 2.08 nights. Also, the growth in visitor numbers in Taranaki (17.7 per cent) is above the national average (6.9 per cent). Note: Paywave allows people to make payments of up to $80 through contactless payments.
Dog and Horse Restrictions During Daylight Saving
20 September 2016
When Daylight Saving starts on Sunday (25 September), seasonal restrictions for dog and horse owners also come in. Horses may not be on Oakura, East End and Fitzroy beaches from 9am to 6pm during Daylight Saving, or on Ngamotu Beach at any time. Also, dogs are not allowed in the following beach areas from 9am to 6pm during the Daylight Saving period: Oakura Beach and foreshore area - the area directly in front of the surf club between the motor camp entrance and Wairau Road. Fitzroy and East End beaches - in the area between imaginary lines drawn directly to the sea from the western (city) end of the East End Surf Life Saving Club building and the eastern (Waiwhakaiho) end of the Fitzroy Surf Life Saving Club building. Oakura River/Corbett Park - Oakura River and bank including the grass area up to the main road bridge and down to the concrete amenities building. Onaero Domain and adjoining beach - All of Onaero domain (except the area occupied by the baches) including the campground on both sides of the Onaero river adjoining the beach and foreshore. “These areas are especially popular with people during Daylight Saving so we require dog owners to keep their pets away during the busiest times of the day,” says Customer and Regulatory Solutions Manager Katrina Brunton. “It’s about striking a balance for beach users during the busiest season. “Dogs are welcome there before 9am and after 6pm, and at many other places in the district, so we ask owners to respect these restrictions for the benefit of everyone.” In addition, dogs must be on a lead in the following areas until the end of April, when the bird breeding and nesting season is finished: Bell Block Beach – at the end of Mangati Road, between the toilet block and the beach access ramp. Wai-iti Beach between Beach Road and the start of the cliff face to the north-east. Tapuae Marine Reserve – between Tapuae and Herekawe streams. Parininihi Reserve – from Waipingau Stream to the Clifton Road boundary. The Council’s website has more information about where dogs can be walked in the district, the areas where dogs must be on a lead (such as the Coastal Walkway), and areas where dogs are banned year-round (such as children’s playgrounds and Ngamotu Beach). Just go to newplymouthnz.com and search for the Walking Your Dog webpage. “We also want to remind people that beaches aren’t a place to drive up and down in a vehicle,” says Mrs Brunton. The only exceptions are emergency and surf lifesaving vehicles, and when a vehicle is used to take a boat to or from the water (via the shortest distance to the sea).
Request for a Temporary Road Closure Americarna Inglewood
20 September 2016
Inglewood First has applied for a temporary road closure to hold Americarna in Inglewood.
Car Free Challenge Coming
16 September 2016
Have you wondered what it would be like to leave your car at home for the day? Next Thursday (22 September) is World Car-Free Day – with New Plymouth district and Taranaki regional councils joining cities around the world in encouraging residents to use alternative transport for one day. “The great thing about World Car-Free Day is that it encourages people to reconsider their travelling habits, and hopefully set up a new habit around more active travel as we head toward summer,” says NPDC Manager Transportation Carl Whittleston. “If you had to do without a car, how would you manage? Would the kids cycle or scooter to school? Would the adults walk or bus to work? “World Car-Free Day is a great opportunity for families to work out how they could use their car less often, and for us to see how our towns would look and feel if there were fewer cars on the road and more people walking, bussing or cycling.” To mark the day, Taranaki Regional Council will run its Taranaki Citylink and Connector bus services for free (except for school services). “Taranaki people are very car-dependent so maybe this one day they can think about trying the bus, walking or cycling,” says TRC Transport Services Manager Chris Clarke. The free bus promotion is being organised by TRC, which provides the New Plymouth Citylink and Hawera-New Plymouth Connector services through its contractors. Similar promotions have previously boosted bus patronage by more than 50 per cent. “It’s a reward to existing customers and hopefully it will encourage more people to try the buses,” says Mr Clarke. Bus timetables are available online at taranakibus.info, and as well as at the Civic Centre on Liardet Street, the Bus Centre on Ariki Street and at i-SITES. Many schools are encouraging their students to participate in World Car-Free Day, and their parents to check their children’s active-travel routes. Mr Whittleston says people who would find it impossible to go without a car for the entire day can still do their bit. “Try switching out at least one car ride by walking, bussing or cycling,” he says. “If you have to travel quite a distance or have very young children, consider parking further away from your venue and walking the last distance.”
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