Damaged Suspension Bridge to Reopen After Repairs
26 June 2017
The historic Bertrand Road Bridge is expected to reopen by the middle of next month.
The bridge was damaged on 20 May when an oversized truck drove onto it and damaged the running planks, decking boards and handrails. The bridge has been closed for inspections since then.
Fortunately, these inspections have shown that no serious damage has been done to the structure of the bridge and its supports.
As well as making repairs, the Council will replace the existing traffic bollards – which were in place to allow bridge access to only light vehicles – with larger ones.
“Over the years the previous bollards had been nudged aside as bigger vehicles tried their luck,” says Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
“As well as bringing in these larger bollards we’ll install four more – two on either side – 10m away from the bridge as an additional warning to drivers.
“This is a historic suspension bridge and it’s important that road users respect it. When it reopens, it will be for pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes and light vehicles only.”
The repairs will cost about $60,000, with the company that employed the truck driver paying the bill.
The Bertrand Road Bridge crosses the Waitara River and connects the communities of Huirangi and Tikorangi.
It was closed in 1985 to vehicles and in 2004 to pedestrians due to safety concerns, then was reopened in 2016 after the Bertrand Road Suspension Bridge Trust raised $630,000 to have it restored.
Inglewood Community Board Member Resigns: Second By-election Coming
23 June 2017
A member of the Inglewood Community Board has tendered his resignation letter for personal reasons.
Phil Rowe, who was Chair of the board during the 2013/16 term, has confirmed his resignation. Mr Rowe was first elected to the board in 2007, with his fourth successful election last year.
Current board chairman Kevin Rowan says he regrets the resignation as Mr Rowe has brought substantial local knowledge to the community board.
“However I wish him well for the future and I thank him for his service to the community over the years,” says Mr Rowan.
“We’ll be opening nominations for election on Tuesday the 27 June. I really encourage people to stand for election as the community boards are a great way to make real changes in our community, especially with the Council’s draft long-term (10 year) plan coming up.”
Nomination forms will be available online at newplymouthnz.com and at the Inglewood Library and Service Centre as well as the Civic Centre in New Plymouth.
Voting papers will be delivered to South-West Ward residents who are on the electoral roll by 29 August, with voting closing on 20 September.
It is the second by-election that will be held by New Plymouth District Council following the resignation of former Deputy Mayor Craig McFarlane so that he can concentrate on recovering his health following a stroke. The by-election for Mr McFarlane’s North Ward seat will be held from 15 August to 6 September.
The by-elections for the Inglewood Community Board seat and the Council’s North Ward seat are being held separately as they involve different groups of electors.
New Governance Partnership Between NPDC and Senior Iwi Leaders Created
22 June 2017
New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) and iwi leadership have created Te Huinga Taumatua Committee to bring the expertise of iwi leaders to the Council’s decision-making process.
“This is a pleasing step forward and is about iwi leaders having a seat at the governance table,” says Mayor Neil Holdom.
Te Huinga Taumatua Committee will consist of five iwi leaders and five elected Councillors to identify and discuss issues of cultural, economic, environmental and social importance to Maori in the district. Unlike the former Iwi Relationship Subcommittee, Te Huinga Taumatua will generate items for the Council to consider as well as make recommendations on Council issues.
“The committee consists of iwi leaders with strong mana and governance experience. It will focus on issues of importance to Maori and provide strategic guidance to NPDC,” says Cr Gordon Brown.
“It’s a pleasing step forward in our partnership and we’re looking forward to the future of this governance committee,” says Cr Marie Pearce.
The committee consists of: Mayor Neil Holdom. Councillor Gordon Brown. Councillor Richard Handley. Councillor Stacey Hitchcock. Councillor Marie Pearce. Larry Crow (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Tama Trust). Leanne Horo (Te Kāhui o Taranaki Trust). Glenn Peri (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Maru Trust). Liana Poutu (Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust). Colleen Tuuta (Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga). The committee’s name has two parts: Te Huinga, which has a dual meaning for a gathering of people and a gathering of leaders, and Taumatua, a place where birds gather high in the trees.
The committee will meet every five weeks starting 17 August, pending Councillors’ confirmation of its terms of reference at their next meeting on 26 June.
It will also help NPDC meet its statutory obligations relating to the Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi under the Local Government Act 2002.
The committee’s full terms and references are online at newplymouthnz.com in the 26 June Council Meeting agenda.
Two Route Options Considered for Coastal Walkway Extension
16 June 2017
Planning has begun on potentially extending the Coastal Walkway from Bell Block to Waitara and two options for the route are being considered.
One option is to go inland, possibly through newly rezoned residential land in Bell Block, and develop side-paths along streams down to the coast.
The second and harder option would be a potential coastal route. “We could create the walkway beside the sea but we would have to factor in coastal erosion, protecting numerous historical sites and consider airport security,” says Councillor Mike Merrick.
Whichever route is eventually chosen as the favoured option, the extension would enable NPDC to tell the region’s story at important sites along the pathway while preserving areas that are important to iwi and hapu. The area has a rich history as the rohe of the Puketapu hapu and is believed to be the first area settled by Maori on this coast.
“Extending the walkway would bring visitors to Waitara’s West Beach and Marine Park and link it to the Waitara River walkway,” says Councillor Colin Johnston.
“The extension would bring more visitors to the town, support tourism growth and be an opportunity to tell more of our unique history. It would connect Waitara to the proposed Taranaki Traverse route, up the Waiwhakaiho River to Egmont National Park.”
The walkway is currently 12.7km long. Depending on the chosen route, the proposed extension could increase the Coastal Walkway to 20km.
“Imagine waking up in Waitara and cycling an eco-friendly and safe route to work in the city; free of cars, buses and trucks,” says Councillor Marie Pearce.
“You could stop in at New Plymouth Airport along the way for a bite to eat and a cuppa while watching the planes.
“Our award-winning Coastal Walkway is a great feat of imagination. Who would have imagined 20 years ago that we would have one of New Zealand’s best coastal attractions?”
The proposal to extend the Coastal Walkway to Waitara is open for public comment through the Council’s proposed 10 Focus Areas discussion. The public are asked to share their thoughts on the proposal by filling in a survey form at newplymouthnz.com/Top10 – all participants will go in the draw to win an iPad.
New-Style Water Quality Signs Coming to More Sites
14 June 2017
A new style of recreational water quality sign is being rolled out across New Plymouth District.
Nine more sites will receive a version of the one trialled at Waitara’s Marine Park since December last year, which generated positive public feedback.
“As a result of that feedback we’ve made some slight changes to the design but, overall, people find this style of sign informative and easy to understand,” says Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
The large signs will replace various smaller ones so that the key information about water quality and any warnings against swimming or collecting shellfish are all in the one place.
The design includes a ‘traffic light’ system to mark any warnings. On the marine signs the warnings are: Green – no health warnings. Orange – no shellfish gathering. Red – no swimming or shellfish gathering. On the freshwater signs the warnings are: Green – no health warnings. Orange – no swimming or food gathering. Red – no dogs or swimming. The district councils use Taranaki Regional Council’s monitoring and national health guidelines to notify the public if the water quality of a site becomes unsuitable for swimming and other water-based recreational activities.
The signs have been developed through a collaboration involving hapu, the Taranaki District Health Board, Taranaki Regional Council and the three district councils in New Plymouth, Stratford and South Taranaki.
The latest information about water quality is also on the district councils’ websites, including a map of the region that displays the information for each site where water quality is tested.
Driving the Change to Zero Waste: Have Your Say on Draft Plan
14 June 2017
The public can now have their say on how we transform New Plymouth District into a Zero Waste community.
Public consultation opens today (Wednesday) on the Council’s draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan: a six-year overview that details where the district is at with waste and recycling, the areas we can improve and what action we can take to achieve Zero Waste.
“It’s important that we hear from the rural community, commercial operators and urban residents because we all have a part to play to reducing the volume of waste we produce,” says NPDC Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
“As a community, we’re doing better with our waste volumes but there are some options we can consider that would cut that volume a lot more.
“For instance, 40 per cent of the waste that currently goes to the landfill could be diverted into reuse and recycling, and 60 per cent of the waste that’s put out in our kerbside rubbish bags could be recycled or composted.”
Submission forms are available online here and from the Civic Centre, Puke Ariki and community libraries.
“We’ve also launched MyRates.co.nz so that homeowners can look at how the various options would affect their rates, make the selections they prefer and, if they wish, send their selections as a submission,” says Mr Langford.
“We’ll also be at the Seaside Market at Ngamotu Beach in the first weekend of July and talking directly with community groups so that we can answer any questions and encourage people to have their say.”
The draft plan lists the district’s key goals as: Maximising opportunities to reduce levels of waste sent to the landfill. (The region sends about 55,000 tonnes of waste to the landfill each year – about 40 per cent of which could be recycled or composted.) Reducing the harmful and costly effects of waste, e.g. reducing the instances of illegal dumping. Improving efficiency of resource use. NPDC proposes to deliver on these goals by: Changing the current kerbside collection of a weekly 60L rubbish bag and two fortnightly recycling bins (one for glass and one for general recycling) to a fortnightly 120L rubbish bin and three recycling bins (for glass, general recycling and food/green waste). Growing the Council’s education programmes to drive behaviour change. Developing collaboration and partnerships in the district, regionally and nationally. Showing leadership and innovation by modelling good practice in Council facilities and addressing commercial waste. If all of the proposed changes are approved after public consultation, it would result in an additional $2.15 per week on household rates.
Submissions close on 14 July.
Public Safety Project Begins at Tongaporutu
12 June 2017
A key road safety project begins on Wednesday (14 June) at Tongaporutu in an effort to keep pedestrians off the state highway.
The pathway that runs beneath State Highway 3 at the Tongaporutu Bridge is being concreted by New Plymouth District Council with support from local residents.
NPDC Manager Parks Operations Stuart Robertson says concreting the path, which connects the north and south sides of the village, was included in the Tongaporutu Development Plan after community consultation.
“This underpass is the only safe way to get from one side of the residential area to the other, as walking on the state highway isn’t advisable,” says Mr Robertson.
“By concreting the path we’ll be making it accessible in all weather and it’ll be an easier and more inviting route for everyone to use.”
The work is expected to take three weeks, during which time the area under the bridge will be closed.
“We’ve scheduled the project for June because it’s a quiet time of year for visitors,” he says.
“Anyone wanting to walk from one side of the village to the other will need to cross the state highway during the works period so we ask people to take extreme care. It’s a busy state highway and people will need to be certain there’s no oncoming traffic before walking across.”
People Friendly District - A Question for Our Community
09 June 2017
The Council’s community conversation on its proposed top 10 Focus Areas continues this week with the issue of developing a people friendly district.
A new survey on this topic is online at newplymouthnz.com/Top10, and everyone who takes part goes in the draw to win an iPad.
“People are the heart of our district; together with the NPDC, we’re partners in our community, development and business,” says Mayor Neil Holdom.
“That is why we must become a more People Friendly district.”
People Friendly means different things, in different places, around the world. In Buenos Aires and Singapore, for example, it means improving transport systems to help pedestrians get around more freely.
Copenhagen and Melbourne are aiming to become cleaner, greener, safer and more comfortable places to live. A survey in Christchurch found many people wanted people friendly to mean family friendly with easy access to libraries, playgrounds and other facilities.
“For New Plymouth District, it means serving you more efficiently and planning and designing our district to build stronger and more connected communities,” says the Mayor.
“We’ve been listening to your opinions and feedback. We know your expectations of us are constantly rising and while we deliver some great services, like most organisations, we want to do better.”
Councillor Roy Weaver says the Council is aiming to be a one-stop shop to give the public fast, efficient service in person, on the phone and online.
“You’ll be able to register your dog, apply for building or alcohol consents, order land information memoranda and browse a user-friendly District Plan,” says Councillor Weaver.
“We’re working on smarter online systems that will let you track your request, submission or application in real time, on your smart phone or pad. For less clicks.
“We’ve started this journey by updating our NPDC website and putting more Council services online, such an app to let you pay for parking on your smartphone.
“Further down the track, we’re looking providing free wi-fi in the business hearts of Waitara, Inglewood, Bell Block and New Plymouth CBD – so you can stay connected when you’re shopping, dining or doing business.
“People are also telling us they want to vote online for Council elections.”
The Council is planning for growing communities. An ageing population means we need more small homes near shopping areas, families want easy access to parks and schools, and people without children want more apartments and terrace homes near urban centres.
Also, young people want recreation facilities, such as skate parks and sports grounds, while working people want to be close to their jobs.
This means designing communities where people move freely – with fewer car trips – to see friends, family and neighbours and get to work and the shops.
“We need to build walkways that link people to places easily whether they’re on a skateboard or mobility scooter or pushing a pram or a wheelchair,” says Councillor Weaver.
“New facilities such as the Len Lye Centre and the planned new airport terminal must be accessible to all.”
Adds Mayor Holdom: “We can expect that new smart systems will add some costs to our budgets for the next 10 years, but better services – with fewer delays – should lead to lower operational costs.
“We need to work out if our community think it’s a priority and if ratepayers are willing to pay for it.”
NPDC Deputy Mayor Resigns: By-election for the North Ward and New Deputy Mayor to be Named Soon
08 June 2017
New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) Deputy Mayor Craig McFarlane has today announced his resignation from the Council to focus on his health following a stroke in February. Mr McFarlane has faithfully served the community for more than 13 years.
“I have absolutely loved my time on the Council, working for the people of the North Ward and the wider District, helping drive progress and ensuring our plans reflected our community’s collective aspirations. I’m resigning from the positions of Deputy Mayor and Councillor to focus on my health,” he says.
Mr McFarlane says he wishes to thank all those who had supported his Council career; particularly his wife Rhonda, who has made a number of sacrifices to allow him to pursue his passion for local government.
“Rhonda has been incredible, stepping up within our business while I have been working on Council matters and having to endure my coming home late at night from a wide range of meetings and community engagements.”
Mayor Neil Holdom paid tribute to McFarlane as a solid wingman and a pillar of the community. “Craig’s resignation is a real loss to the Council and to the community. I think I speak for the entire organisation when I say we will miss Craig, we respect Craig, we did not wish to see him resign but we all understand that he must focus on his recovery and he has our full support. “As a new Mayor I have benefited hugely from Craig’s sage advice, his no-nonsense approach, his keen intellect and a deep understanding of the workings of local government and in particular New Plymouth District Council.”
A decision on a Deputy Mayor would be made in the next few days and a North Ward by-election is likely to be held in late August. The North Ward covers from the New Plymouth airport to just north of Mohakatino, including Waitara, Lepperton, Tikorangi, Urenui and surrounding rural areas north-east of the Waitara River.
The McFarlane family have requested the media respects their privacy at this time and will not be making any further statements on this matter.
Craig McFarlane local government history Elected to the Waitara Community Board in 2004, serving as Board Chairman. Elected to New Plymouth District Council in 2007 and has served as the Council appointee to the Waitara and/or Clifton community boards every term. Appointed Deputy Mayor in 2016.
LED Project a Shining Light for Energy Savings
06 June 2017
A large energy-saving programme is running ahead of time and under budget, and is bringing larger savings than expected.
Two years ago the Council started replacing all 8,000 sodium streetlights in the district with LED lights in an invest-to-save initiative.
About 2,800 will have been switched over by the end of this month (June).
“To say we’re pleased with the progress of this programme is an understatement,” says Infrastructure Manager David Langford.
“We’ve got about a third of the lights switched over as at the end of May, and we are already seeing a greater than 11 per cent reduction in the total energy used by the district’s streetlights.
“In just the five months from November last year to March this year we’ve saved a total of 82,000kWh. That’s enough to power 134 homes for a month.
“The installation programme is a year ahead of schedule, and because of the reducing cost of LED technology and an increased subsidy from Land Transport NZ the electricity savings will have paid off our portion of the project in 7.5 years instead of 10.”
The original $5.5 million budget had a 51 per cent subsidy from Land Transport NZ. The lowering price for LED streetlights has changed the budget estimate to $3.82m and LTNZ has increased its subsidy to 85 per cent, to be applied retrospectively.
The entire project is now forecast to cost ratepayers $573,000.
As well as delivering significant energy savings, the LED streetlights have a cleaner white light and the new system is more reliable with lower costs for maintenance and replacements.
Road Safety Improvements Require Temporary Closure of City Roundabout
02 June 2017
Safety improvements for drivers and pedestrians are coming to a busy New Plymouth roundabout.
The intersection of Dawson/Bulteel/Mill/Frankley/Standish will be closed from Friday next week (9 JUNE) to Thursday 15 June (weather permitting).
Pedestrians will continue to have footpath access through the site.
Infrastructure Manager David Langford says the road seal at the intersection needs replacing.
“We’ll also be enlarging the roundabout with a flat apron, which will encourage vehicles to slow down, and constructing new features such as a pedestrian island refuge on Standish Street, kerb extensions and tactile pavers,” he says.
A map of traffic detours during the closure is linked at the bottom of this page.
Detour signs will also be in place.
“We ask drivers to be patient during the works and plan for the extra few minutes to drive around the detours,” says Mr Langford.
“We know road closures are an inconvenience but they are essential to keeping the road workers safe whilst they are improving our roads.
“Remember, road workers are someone’s family and we want to be able to get them home safely at the end of each day – and removing the risk of working next to fast moving cars and trucks is part of this.” Map of detours during temporary intersection closure (216KB)
Should a Thriving Central City be one of NPDC's Focus Areas
26 May 2017
Reinforcing New Plymouth as a destination for leisure, events and cultural activities is the aim of the proposed Central City top 10 Focus Area – and New Plymouth District Council wants residents to have their say.
“Our goal is to have a retail and cultural hub that lures local, national and international visitors alike,” says Councillor Alan Melody.
“This will in turn bring jobs and business opportunities, supporting ongoing economic growth in our district.
“We’ll be starting the discussion on the Council’s Facebook page and encouraging people to fill in our survey so they can share their thoughts on the issue.”
The survey is online at newplymouthnz.com/Top10 – everyone who fills it in goes in the draw to win an iPad!
Councillor Shaun Biesiek says New Plymouth’s central city has been the business, social and cultural hub of Taranaki for more than 170 years.
“When it’s pumping, everyone is better off. Businesses prosper, creating new jobs, and shoppers come for a wider range of goods, services and have a great time,” he says.
“Visitors have a more exciting stay and are more likely to return or recommend New Plymouth as a destination.
“The Lonely Planet global accolade is driving a wave of publicity that is benefiting our retail sector and keeping the tills ringing. But it needs our help to sustain this vitality for future generations.
“Visitor and shopping trends are changing. We’ve all seen empty shops, the growing trend of buying online and competition from big retail hubs such as The Valley. It’s a sign the Central City needs to seize new opportunities and be more creative.”
Examples of being more creative include the Utopia Multimedia Festival in March, putting in lighting to accentuate art in the Huatoki Plaza and support for heritage conservation, such as funding earthquake-proofing of the old TSB Bank and the Hookers Building.
The Council is working with the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce and the Business and Retailers Association (BARA) to create opportunities during big events that bring a surge in visitors – for instance, entertainers and buskers in the Central City during WOMAD.
When a cruise ship visited earlier this year, shops opened on Sunday and had German translations in their windows.
Other opportunities in the year ahead include the All Blacks match against Argentina, the Shop Local and Spring promotions, Art in the Street, the Running of the Bulls and the Taranaki International Arts Festival.
“When Yusuf-Cat Stevens plays here in December, we’ll help retailers with a market day when food, entertainment and great shopping will take over Devon Street,” says Mr Melody.
“We’re also devising a summer programme including a Festival of Laughs, starring top comedians, to run alongside the Festival of Lights, a bike race and a skateboarding competition.”
Adds Mr Biesiek: “Our support for heritage buildings has helped create the West End Precinct, which fans out from the renovated White Hart Hotel to include boutique shops, businesses and upmarket bars and eateries.
“Down the track, we’re looking at free wi-fi so people can stay connected while shopping, browsing and dining.”
Rubbish to Get the Smart Bin Treatment in Okato
24 May 2017
As part of delivering a more cost-effective and high-quality service, New Plymouth District Council is about to bring the ‘smart rubbish bin’ treatment to Okato.
Two solar-powered Big Belly bins will be installed in the town next week following successful trials of the bins at Kawaroa Park and the Mt Bryan Reserve car park in New Plymouth.
“We’ve had really good results from the New Plymouth sites, for both cost-saving and reducing the amount of litter on the ground,” says Manager Parks and Open Spaces Stuart Robertson.
“It’ll be great to bring those same results to Okato.”
The bins compress rubbish and send an alert to the Council when they are ready to be emptied.
Before the Big Belly bins were installed at Kawaroa and Pig-Out Point the Council would empty rubbish bins at these sites once a day at this time of year. Now, a collection crew is sent only every second day, “and even then the bins aren’t full thanks to the rubbish being compacted”, says Mr Robertson.
The two new bins will replace the nine existing rubbish bins in central Okato, yet will have greater overall capacity. They will be installed in the centre of town next to the noticeboard and at the playground.
In addition, a public seat in the town centre will be replaced with one made from the same recycled plastic material used in the planks that comprise the boardwalk in front of Waitara’s Marine Park.