'Lets' Raises The Bar!
Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 11:11AM
Bill Barclay

In the thoughtful and timely post that precedes this ‘follow-up,’ ‘Lets’ draws attention to a number of social indicators that should concern the incoming Council, but because of its make-up (almost identical to its predecessor) is unlikely to occupy great deal of its time. It should!

One of the great unspoken issues that arises from this post, relates to a recent (2013) Social & Affordable Housing Report prepared by Wintec postgraduate students, apparently as a research assignment. It points to very real housing shortages in two areas of the District – Mercury Bay and Coromandel, but the analysis could just as well apply to Thames.

It is all very well to draw attention to elaborate statistics that suggest that our housing stock is substantially less that that required to meet needs, let alone the all-important ‘mix,’ but the question of just who is responsible for redressing this imbalance is the ‘elephant-in-room.’

The Report treads gently around the edges of the question, but really provides no answers. Of course, incoming councillors often bring with them wonderfully idealistic concepts of just where the responsibility lies, and word has it that one new councillor at least has definite ideas in that regard that others around the table may find ‘challenging.’

It is suggested this shortage is being exacerbated by the number of single mothers, and elderly retirees with limited or zero resources that are moving into the district – both categories over-represented with Maori who are particularly disadvantaged for any number of reasons that hardly requires analysis here. It is suggested that many would be adequately housed in two, or in some cases three bed-room accommodation, both of which are in distinctly short supply.

Regardless of where the demands is occurring, it is critical that our Council undertakes long-term planning that takes all these factors into account, and vigorously seeks to channel Government resources to meet the need. It is simply beyond already stretched ratepayers to contribute to the cost, regardless of Government attempts to suggest otherwise.

It is nevertheless not inappropriate for Council land to be made available for the purpose where it is available. Unfortunately, such is not the case in Thames or its environs, apart from Council's Lowe Avenue block (about 4 ha.) where it is estimated that at least to 24 2 B/R dwellings could be built - perhaps more.

That would an excellent start, and one long advocated by Thames Housing Trust Chair – Peter Wood. Unfortunately there has been a long-standing reluctance on the part of staff, or councillors, or both to move on this, and the land emains unused.

This does not come close to dealing with the other issues raised in ‘Lets’ excellent post, but response to the post has been excellent, and it is an appropriate time to raise these issues as the new Council assembles, and discusses its programs, both short and long term.

The obsession with tourism that occupied the previous Council needs modification in order to ensure a more ‘balanced’ economic plan aimed a better quality of life for all residents.  “Trickle-down’ from tourism benefits a miniscule, but vocal section of community – one that was consistently favoured by Leach.  

It is time to apply pressure in order to ensure that this change takes place. I suspect that newly elected Mayor - Sandra Goudie will respond appropriately and get staff moving in the right direction.

 

 

 

Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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