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Economic Development Action Plan

Every major development needs a plan - and this is it for our District for 2014-2018.

This is the result of Ben Day's work since he arrived, and his attempt to pull together all the elements of potential that exist within the District.

On the face of it, an admirable objective, and a document that would certainly measure up to the requirements for the award of a Masters degree.

But there are a number of anomalies that I would like to point out, and that would not escape any close examination by any potential investor looking at comparative advantage.

I would certainly closely examine the Key Project Targets to see just what had been achieved in the first year following the publication of the document.

These are the targets:

There are three anchor projects the Council has identified that are imperative to the district’s economy.

These are: the Coromandel Great Walks, Coromandel Harbour Strategy and the Hauraki Rail Trail extension to Kaiaua/Miranda.

1. The Coromandel Great Walks Business Plan approved by June 2014

2. Establish the first section of the Coromandel Great Walks project (Hot Water Beach to Cathedral
Cove) by end of 2015

3. Two new sections of the Coromandel Great Walks under-construction by the end of 2017

4. The Kaiaua/Miranda to Kopu leg of the Hauraki Rail Trail completed by the end of 2016

5. The Coromandel Harbour Strategy approved by June 2014

6. Fast Ferry service established between Auckland and Coromandel Town (direct) by end of 2018

What stands out is that each and every one of these projects appears to be in trouble - real trouble!

And great efforts are being made at this time to disguise those problems by postponing completion dates, and throwing even more funding at them in order to achieve the desired results.

I will not go into great detail - anyone who has read my posts over the last few months will be aware of just how precarious these projects are - not just in the short tern, but in terms of apparently fatal flaws for which long term solutions appear extremely vague, or non-existent.

Then comes the extraordinary Case Study 1. This appears to suggest a wonderful new opportunity for Thames to become an IT Hub - and considerable sums ($50,000) in the first year are to be expended in encouraging this to happen. Ben Day uses his favourite Thames software firm - Guru Digital Media, as the example for others to follow. Mr Day has clearly invested a great deal in encouraging Guru not only as an example, but in implementing a Procurement Strategy that provides TCDC work for this company to develop council specific software. None of this appears to be subject to be independent review to ensure that its product represents value for money, or is 'fit for purpose'.

This does imply in any way criticism of Guru - they are entitled to take advanatage of whatever strategy is available for them to utilise, and they appear to be successful in their endeavours with an impressive client list. Why they needed a 'hand-out' from TCDC is not exactly clear.

My criticism is reserved for TCDC for adopting such a strategy without any apparent attempt to justify it on financial, or 'best practice' grounds. Mr Day apears to have had a free hand to develop and implement this strategy, and others within the Council appear to have been complicit. It needs immediate and comprehensive investigation, something that I would suggest neither the Mayor nor Chief Executive are capable of undertaking - their fingers are just too deeply imbedded in the whole process.

I don't intend to analyse the document any further - I just don't believe that it has sufficient credibility to warrant any further effort in that regard. I cannot imagine that any potential investor will take it seriously.   




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