The neglect of core Council services and infrastructure is everywhere to be seen; the roads are in a shocking state of disrepair; rubbish bins are full to overflowing and totally inadequate to meet the needs of our burgeoning visitor population; public toilets are inadequately serviced and in a disgusting state; Matiatia traffic congestion increases every year as the local and visitor population swells.
The first thing the incoming local Board members must do, after electing a Chair and Deputy who will end the Walden/Meeuwsen legacy of cronyism and neglect, is get control of any money that has been promised but not spent (e.g. the promises of a further $100k to Direction Matiatia and $50k to Waiheke Resources Trust for a start).
The second urgent action is to form workable relationships with Auckland Transport and ATEED to get solutions to the tourism and transport infrastructure impasse at Matiatia. This is where Cath Handley’s skills and contacts could come into play.
Thirdly, they need to get the backpackers building up and running again. Too many backpackers are arriving on the island expecting what has been billed as the world’s top island destination would provide at least one place offering cheap accommodation.
Lastly, if there is any budget at all, they should reinstate the street cleaner over the busy visitor period who will make additional rubbish bin pick-ups, toilet cleans and clear street gutters.
In the longer term the Board needs to work with Auckland Council to get the extra funding needed to pay for the infrastructure requirements of Waiheke as one of the country’s top visitor destinations. Ratepayers cannot be expected to bear all the burden of regional and national tourism policy. Here is what Winston Peters has to say on the subject in a Facebook post yesterday
Ratepayers around the country are saddled with huge costs from tourism. Small towns are hit hard.
They struggle to find enough money to build toilets for tourists stopping off in buses, cars and campervans.
Meanwhile, Mr Key and Mr English have collected over a billion dollars in GST from international tourists. Too much is staying in their back pockets.
If the regions are taking the load they should be given a hand.
All they got this year was $12m over four years for the whole country.
That won’t built many toilets.
Tekapo has an $800,000 bill for its toilets. Hot Water Beach at Hahei used paid parking to fund toilets. Kaikoura is wondering how to pay for toilets near the popular seal pup waterfall north of the town.
Time for John and Bill to hand a decent amount of the GST to the hard workers in the regions, who are not only producing the exports for the country, but are being landed with the cost of tourism.
Meanwhile the absolute priority is for tomorrow’s first meeting of the third Waiheke Local Board is to rid the island of its Walden/Meeuwsen legacy. Shirin Brown holds the balance of power. She is far from ideal but is acceptable to both sides. She has learned a lot from her first three years, including she cannot trust the playground bullies Walden and Meeuwsen.
Tomorrow’s inaugural meeting will decide the direction of the next three years. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.