INDEPENDENT NEWS

Letter To Whitby Residents' Association

Published: Mon 29 Oct 2001 11:47 AM
43 Eskdale Road Papakowhai
Friday, 26 October 2001
Whitby Residents' Association
C/- Jim Dearsly FAX 234 6181
Dear Jim & co
Thank you for your letter of 24 October 2001. Please, let me give you my views and you can tell me when I am wrong.
The Duck Creek problem is not a failure of the Resource Management Act. Rather, it is the result of the city council agreeing to an inadequate District Plan (made under the Act). All decisions now about Duck Creek are to be made in accordance with the District Plan.
The way ahead, in my view, involves three fronts: (1) PCC should amend the District Plan (this will require some intelligent policy work by the chairperson of the council's Environment Committee, and will also require public notification and submissions);
(2) PCC should attempt to negotiate (broker) a deal between the parties concerned (ideally, starting before any Resource Consent Application is lodged, moving on the basis of expressed public concern). This is also a job for the chair of the Environment committee;
(3) Your association should prepare for a legal wrangle should there be a Resource Consent Application that cannot be resolved by mediation.
I have obtained from the Regional Council the materials I requested on Duck Creek and forward these to you by fax.
The greatest challenge faced by the Porirua City Council is to bring rates into line with those in other cities in our region.
It is simply unjust to keep Porirua's rates so high, and one practical effect is that growth (both business and residential) has been largely stopped (Whitby is the only significant exception. Whitby's growth in the last 5 years was 14.37% (mainly Endeavour 31.73% and Resolution 25.89%).
The growth in the city as a whole over the last 10 years was 0.50% , but without Whitby the city population decreased over 10 years by 3.92%.
These figures must be compared with Wellington growth of 10.32% and Kapiti 18.85%. We have to ask ourselves what drives these numbers. I belive the level of rates is one important factor that makes people leave our city, and what makes others decide to live elsewhere.
You refer to the UAC. It was my understanding that there is no scope to adjust the Uniform Annual Charge because we are hard up against the maximum allowed by legislation (30%). You indicate otherwise in your letter and I am very interested in that point. In a place like Porirua, we should maximise the fixed annual charge proportion of the rates bill. It is a long established policy of PCC, although it may have changed in the last 3 years.
The current review of rating powers may well assist us a little here, but, it will not solve the base problem. The base problem is that the council does not have the discipline needed to review and cut spending. The WRC brought rates down over 10 years by 0.35% in real terms. I believe the city council should apply the same methods and bring rates to a level that is comparable to those in Wellington.
I will certainly try to get to your WRA meetings, but life is that I have clashes for evening meetings quite frequently. However, please feel free to call upon me at any time and email works well.
Regards to everyone
Robert Shaw

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