How many councillors, community boards?

How many councillors should we have?  Is it fair that some parts of the city have community boards, but others don’t?  Should we stick with the current wards/ward boundaries or should be they changed to reflect different ‘communities of interest’?

Local authorities in New Zealand are required to review their elected representation arrangements at least every six years.  Hutt City Council is due to conduct such a review before the 2025 election.

Current councillors at a visit to the Koraunui Hub in Stokes Valley earlier this year.
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Where are we at with Three Waters?

For the average Kiwi, the questions they want answered by MPs and parties jostling for their votes probably revolve around the cost of living, tax fairness, housing, the environment, law & order.

The result of the October election will also herald which way central government moves on issues key to councils: Three Waters and RMA reform, transport funding, the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (‘significant natural areas’) and even whether we’re going to see another round of local government restructuring/amalgamations.

Mandated Three Waters restructuring – or not – is a big one. 

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Creaking infrastructure gobbling up dollars

If any doubt remained over the challenges of failing Three Waters infrastructure in the Hutt (and wider in the region), latest water loss data from Wellington Water (WW) surely drowns it.

It’s an issue that throws sharp focus on the different Three Waters proposals of Labour and National as we head to the polls in October. (See ‘Where did we get to on 3 Waters reform?’)

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Fly-tippers give two-fingered salute to ratepayers

Fly-tipping is an affront to our environment – and to ratepayers forced to pick up the bill.

Hutt River Ranger Joby Mills reports that in the year to June 2023 there have been scores of cases of rubbish dumped along Te Awakairangi, diverting council staff from pest control, planting and other community tasks and costing $113,000 to deal with. 

A page from the GWRC report to councillors.

Two or three times a week he’s coming across household rubbish, piles of old tyres, broken ovens, mattresses, even offal and commercial waste such as pallets and broken up concrete.

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Gabrielle was a warning

If we needed a reminder of how vital the Riverlink project is to Lower Hutt, Cyclone Gabrielle delivered it in February.

The flooding triggered by intense rainfall – well over 400mm in some parts of Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay – engulfed homes and businesses and swept away infrastructure. Eleven people died.  The properties of half the population of Wairoa were inundated when the Wairoa River breached stopbanks.

The warning from the regional council’s Manager Flood Protection, Graeme Campbell, in April was stark: If that cyclone had hit Lower Hutt, existing central city stopbanks would not have coped.  Even with the higher, wider stopbanks planned under Riverlink, we might only have escaped a breach by the skin of our teeth.

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Calls for Hutt ‘referendum’ on 3 Waters

A number of residents have emailed councillors asking for a referendum on the government’s proposed 3 Waters reform. This is how I replied to them:

Just by way of quick re-cap on Hutt City Council actions to date.  When last year the four new water service entities were proposed, we had legal advice that as a Council we could not ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ on such a crucial issue without formal consultation with our residents.  We waited to see the final form of the proposals so that we could do that consultation, and perhaps even hold a referendum.   Then came the disappointing news the government had decided to make the reforms mandatory. 

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New density rules put Hutt’s nuanced approach in the shade

by Cr Simon Edwards

While it’s surprising – and very welcome – to see Labour and National look past the usual political manoeuvering and show co-operation on a thorny issue, their recent announcement on housing density has significant downsides for the Hutt.  

Can’t fault the motivation behind the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and other Matters) Amendment Bill. By any account, we’re tens of thousands of houses short in New Zealand and sky-high accommodation costs are a drag on the economy and many Kiwis’ lives.   

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Te Awa Kairangi thrown into the pool with the rest of ‘Water Entity C’

With the government’s decision to make the 3Waters reform mandatory, the public consultation promised for next year seems redundant.  It may be that New Zealanders will only get a definitive  say on this major change to provision of drinking water, stormwater and sewerage services at the 2023 general election.

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Pokies harm spurs ‘sinking lid’ option

They can cause huge harm to those individuals (and their families) caught in the addiction grip of the flashing lights and hope of prizes.  But unfortunately they’ve also become a staple revenue source for many community groups and sports clubs.

We’re talking pokies – or to give them their official description, class 4 (non-casino) electronic gaming machines. 

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