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Economic Development Action Plan 2014/18

I have struggled through this draft document over the weekend, and have come to the conclusion that while outlining a vision very close to that described ad nauseum by the Mayor over the last year, it provides very little new, or verifiable information that one would normally expect in a document of this nature.

Like the Thames Urban Development Strategy, it is full of bon mots, and declarations that basically rehash all the promotional press releases that have emerged from the vamped-up PR department over the last eighteen months. Frankly, it is depressing, while unnecessarily raising hopes amongst those who are susceptible, and who lack background knowledge sufficient to critically examine some of the assumptions on which it is based.

It will be glued together by a raft of pretty photographs - strangely, a great number artistically framed from inside the A & G Price works here in Thames which is struggling to maintain its viability in the face of changed circumstances facing heavy industry in this country. Likewise the Toyota plant.

Remarkably, in dealing with the development of the the aquaculture industry on which so must political capital hangs, there is not one mention the the entire document of the environmental dangers associated with the proposed fin-fish operation in Wilson's Bay, though there is great attention paid to the development of highly subsidised infrastructure that will be required regardless of the fin-fish, but for which the economic justification would be substantially degraded were fin-fish not to proceed as planned.

I stand to be corrected, but my own assessment is that the expected international interest in the fin-fish area tender appears to be stalling - certainly, there has been a dearth of information flowing from WRC in that regard. It all hangs in the balance in my books, never mind the blatant attempts by Central Government to kick-start it in order to keep faith with its own long touted economic objectives. 

I don't intend at this stage to say a great deal about the Mayor's other fancied projects involving walkways; sufficient to say that my contacts within DoC regard these plans are impractical, if not laughable. They wonder who is having a piece of who over these grand plans to traverse the spine of the Peninsula, and the rugged coastline, and who is going to pay.  There appears to be little or no attempt to even touch on a verifiable financial analysis of these plans that we should expect in an Economic Development Plan. 

Then we could move to the extraordinary plans to attract a vast number of IT people to the District, once again based on some fanciful assumptions, and the apparent success of one company here in Thames whose fortunes have been to a large extent determined by un-tendered work provided by Thames Council. That is no way to encourage business to the District, and will eventually cost a great deal - $200,000 having already been allocated via a slush fund to help get ventures under way. 

Apart from tourism, which granted receives considerable attention in the document, there remains little of interest in this District to those who are seeking to establish, or re-establish industry outside of the main centres of Auckland, Hamilton and Tuaranga. This may be a fine place for newly employed staff at the TCDC on high incomes to bring up their families, but that in itself does not constitute a commercial/industrial Mecca. Whitianga- the fasted growing centre on the Peninsula, and that is not saying a great deal considering the latest statistics, offers nothing than other a fish factory, and glorious sports ground facilities. It will continue to be be place of rest and recreation, with more and more bach owners cashing-up in the city and settling down for their dotage in lotus-land by the sea. 

Spare me the unsupported garbage that has emerged in this so called Action Plan - it is a dream, and will prove to be a drain down which vast quantities of our rates are poured in order the justify the existence of bright eyed graduates, and time-wasters. But don't take my word for it. Grab a copy off the net and cast your own critical eye over its content. I hope that don't turn out as depressed as I - mind you, I am in the old bugger category - my days at university were spent learning how to develop ones critical faculties - not produce gobbledygook and jargon. 

In other words, this is a beautifully written, and will become an equally beautifully produced document that represents the  highest endeavours of a skilled PR team operating virtually in a vacuum.

It is an old saw that is worth repeating that those who can do, and those that can't write about it. Every Council theorist should have a term actually at the coal-face of commerce before committing pen to paper. Those prepared to commit capital to projects on this Peninsula may take heart from the indication of a business-friendly Council contained in this document, but it will take more than that to bring about economic nirvanna. 




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Reader Comments (2)

Once again Leach seems to think that the District’s economic salvation is tourism. While tourism is undoubtedly important if we keep doing what we’ve always done we’ll keep getting what we’ve always got......which doesn’t seem enough. Leach may have forgotten that an economic development strategy was developed about 2 years ago that had in the vicinity of 180 specific actions - broken down into each community board area – aimed at broadening the economic base of the District. Only some of it related to tourism – as that’s a no brainer – and most of it involved little or no expenditure. I guess that strategy is sitting on the scrap heap somewhere. Still glossy pages and soothing words look professional and give the impression someone knows what they are doing. We shall see....

November 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterInsider

I wonder if anybody from the Dept of Those Who Know Better inside the cloistered walls of Pomposity Palace bothered to ask Thames businesses about their (business) current reality when constructing this newest incarnation of the Future Fairy Land Vision. No disrespect to staff, but did Ben the Flower Pot man go out into Reality Land and talk with Actual People?

November 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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