Park's Mobility Scooters Removed for Safety
04 November 2016
Misuse of free mobility scooters in Pukekura Park has resulted in the machines being removed while health and safety issues are worked through.
The park had four single-seat mobility scooters available through the Tea House on the Lake, donated by TSB Bank and administered by New Plymouth District Council.
While the scooters enabled people with limited mobility to see more of the park, the machines were frequently taken into areas that were unsafe.
“They’re meant to be operated on slopes that are no more than seven or eight degrees, which is pretty modest,” says Recreation and Culture Manager Teresa Turner.
“However they’ve been taken up the steep road at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands – which is particularly dangerous when coming down – and onto side-paths that look gentle at the bottom but become steep and impossible to turn around on. Some have also gone ‘off-road’ and come back damaged.
“I don’t think people mean to take the scooters into unsafe areas – they probably think ‘I’ll just have a little look up here’ and they get into situations that they shouldn’t.
“There comes a point when we have to put a stop to a service that is repeatedly putting vulnerable people in unsafe situations.”
The Council is investigating whether a feasible solution can be found.
“If we can deliver a safer service, we will,” says Ms Turner.
“In the meantime those with limited mobility can still book the park’s eight-seater electric buggy to take them around the park.”
The buggy can be booked through the Friends of the Park on 06-759 6060.
50 Years Since First Plane Landed at New Plymouth Airport
04 November 2016
On Monday (7 November) it will be 50 years since the first airplane landed at New Plymouth Airport.
At 7am on 7 November 1966, pilot Peter Dobson landed his Cessna at the brand new airport at the end of Brown Road (now Airport Drive), which replaced Bell Block Airport. On Monday, Mr Dobson will be there again for the anniversary.
“We plan to have a short celebration that morning to mark the half-century,” says Manager New Plymouth Airport Wayne Wootton.
“As well as Mr Dobson being in attendance we’ll hear from well-known aviation fan Jim Hickey as well Kevin Kenny from Air New Zealand, and there’ll also be cake and airplane lollies for the public.”
Also landing at the airport on that first day was a Lear Jet from Sydney and a Tiger Moth. Commercial flights started at 11am, after a short ceremony by Mayor A. H. Honnor.
The airport was officially opened on 4 March 1967.
The terminal was built to cater for 60,000 passengers per year. In the last 12 months New Plymouth Airport has had 390,000 passengers, and construction will start late next year on a new, larger terminal.
Encouraging Sustainable Travel, New Mayor Chooses Electric Car
04 November 2016
Enhancing the natural environment is one of the three pillars of the New Plymouth District Council’s (NPDC) 30-year Blueprint, and the district’s new Mayor is leading by example.
The Council has an electric fleet as part of its energy saving programme, and its Let’s Go education initiative (The Fresh Air Challenge) helped support more than 87,000 sustainable trips in September.
Mayor Neil Holdom has decided on a Mayoral vehicle that reflects his multi-tasking approach to work: a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that runs on electricity and petrol.
He took possession of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recently and says it reflects his desire to support the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand.
“Our Transport Minister Simon Bridges has thrown the weight of Government behind electric vehicles and as we plan for the future, I’m excited about the potential of this rapidly evolving technology,” he says.
“I have three kids to drop to school each day and an active sporting life. I wanted to choose a vehicle that sends a message that you can think globally, act locally, make a difference to the environment and still get out there do the things you want to do, in the lifestyle capital of New Zealand.”
Mayor Holdom says his daily commute is approximately a 36km round trip and the Outlander would allow him to do that within the vehicle’s 50km pure electric range.
An electric fleet is part of the NPDC’s energy saving programme that won Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority awards in 2012 and 2014.
Since 2009 the Council has used electric vehicles as part of its fleet, which currently includes a forklift at the New Plymouth Wastewater Treatment Plant, an eight-seater cart and a working vehicle in Pukekura Park, and e-bikes for staff.
NPDC’s Let’s Go programme encourages people to look at their transport options, with a focus on walking, riding and busing. During the Fresh Air Challenge, a sustainable travel month in September, 87,000 trips were logged on the Council’s website – removing more than 1,100 vehicles from the roads every day.
Mayor Holdom said he would be making the PHEV available for fellow Councillors to try, to showcase the technology and help people understand what was once considered science fiction is now a reality.
“New Plymouth District Council recently demonstrated its commitment to environmental excellence, as part of its broader digital strategy, with the shift to paperless Council meetings, saving hundreds of kilograms of paper and thousands of ratepayers’ dollars,” says the Mayor.
“This vehicle is just another small step but when those steps are all added up, they start to make a real difference to our collective future.”
How Will the New Rating Valuations Affect Rates?
31 October 2016
The results of New Plymouth District’s rating revaluation for 2016 have been released by Quotable Value (QV).
The district’s average residential property rateable value, which includes land and improvements, has gone up 18 per cent. The land component alone has gone up 29.7 per cent.
This compares to the district’s 2013 rating revaluation increase of just 0.3 per cent for residential property rateable value and 2.3 per cent for land value.
NPDC Chief Financial Officer Alan Bird says the effect on a property’s rates will depend on how the property’s change in land value compares to the district’s average change.
“For residential property, the district average is an increase of 29.7 per cent – so properties with a lower percentage rise than the average will see a smaller impact on any rates movement and those properties with a higher than average percentage increase will have a greater movement.
“But also keep in mind that a property’s land value affects only the general rate, which makes up approximately one-third of a property’s total rates for an average property. The remainder of the rates are service charges and those aren’t influenced by a property’s rating value.”
Mr Bird says the land value change in most areas in the district is in line with the district’s average, with a few exceptions.
Urenui and Oakura have land value increases of just 5.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively – significantly less than the average.
At the other end of the spectrum, Okato land values for residential sections increased on average by 67.1 per cent.
“The increase in Okato came from a low base and these properties are likely to have a higher general rate increase in percentage terms than other properties in the district, while Urenui and Oakura will have a lower general rate increase than other areas,” says Mr Bird.
The new rating values were prepared by QV valuers to reflect market value as at 1 September 2016, however they will not be applied to Council rates until 1 July 2017.
LED Streetlight Roll-out Begins
27 October 2016
The replacement of every streetlight on the district’s local roading network kicks off in earnest next week, with the first of 420 LED lamps being installed in Inglewood.
Manager Transportation Carl Whittleston expects all of the town’s streetlights on local roads – excluding the state highway – will be replaced with LEDs by the New Year, weather permitting.
“As soon as Inglewood is completed, we’ll move on to Urenui to change over all the streetlights on local roads in that town as well,” he says.
The project is part of an invest-to-save initiative which will result in 75 per cent less power being used by streetlights once the entire district has been switched over.
“On top of that, we’ll have a better quality of light – it’s a whiter light compared to the yellow light of our current streetlights,” says Mr Whittleston.
The initial schedule was for a five-year roll-out across the district. However, the components’ prices have lowered since the project was approved and Mr Whittleston says the roll-out could be shortened to three years in total as a result.
The lights will last about 20 years and will pay for themselves in seven years.
The Taranaki Electricity Trust has contributed $100,000 towards the installations in Inglewood and Urenui.
Saving Money and Trees Digital Council Meetings for NPDC
21 October 2016
Councillors will be going fully digital for all Council meetings at NPDC.
“Agendas will no longer be printed for Councillors or Council staff in an effort to lower costs and reduce the environmental impact,” says Councillor Shaun Biesiek.
“We go through up to half a million A4 sheets of paper each year for printing agendas, so that alone will be a significant cost and environmental saving,” says Councillor Stacey Hitchcock.
Going digital will give elected members the most up to date information more quickly than before and reduce staff time for producing agendas.
Each Councillor will receive an iPad Pro for reading and annotating agenda reports. A handful of Councillors trialled the system last term.
A limited number of printed copies of the agenda will still be available for the public in the Council Chamber before meetings start.
The move to digital agendas is part of NPDC's Digital Council strategy, which aims to develop digital systems to integrate Council services. The first project in this programme was the launch of the Council's new website last month, newplymouthnz.com.
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.
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 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 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 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 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.