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Today's EDC Meeting

The Economic Development Committee met today, and al last demonstrated that it is no longer merely a tool of Leach – it is beginning to develop a mind of its own under Brent Page’s stewardship.

Discussion on the HRT (Hauraki Rail Trail) K2K construction was limited to just that – interesting only inasmuch as they are still awaiting resolution of the Piako bridge construction – it appears that there is no firm commitment as yet from the Government. But we remain in the dark over the current performance of the Trust – no report, and no indication of where the Audit Report for 2014/15 may become available.

There is some real obfuscation going on here  in my opinion, that should be causing some concern at the higher levels, not disguised by constant reference to the K2K section development.  

Under Ross Ashby’s Project Management, the Hot Water Beach to Whitianga Walkway project (note, Brent Page’s insistence that this should be the name adopted!) appears to be making remarkably good progress at last (though well behind schedule!) and this appears to have resulted mainly from having convinced the disparate Hahei groups to get in behind it now that they appear to have accepted the car-park plans on the outskirts of their village.

The 500 park Lees Road park will present some problems, but Leach’s main concern relates to wasting time on trying to achieve the optimum right from the outset. They really do want something to show for their trouble by election  time.

Purangi crossing remains a problem that may now be solved by obtaining funding as a part of the Cook’s 250th Anniversary handout from the Government. The walkway/ boardwalk around the Estuary may therefore be feasible, but consents and approvals of existing land owners will remain a problem. I still fancy my earlier suggestion, and may submit it to their suggestion box on the issue - with acknowledgement to Van Gogh of course!

Apart from this and some of the usual back-slapping over apparent recent success, there was questioning today of the predominance of the “visitor industry” (Brent’s words!) in the work of the Committee. I get the feeling that Brent is becoming concerned about the low relative income associated with mass tourism, the predominance of tourism in the EDC Agenda, and  is determined to achieve greater balance. His little homily on the matter seemed to have the right effect, but he should learn not to resile when finishing his sentences – if he believes it, he should stick to his guns.

Staggeringly, there is no mention of Manuka honey production anywhere in the Economic Development Strategy introduced by Ben Day. This somewhat corrected when Tony Brljevich asked the question, and got a totally incorrect answer that demonstrated that no one around the table knew anything about the industry, even though it is growing, and has a huge potential – totally overlooked in the Strategy dealt with today.

Leach chimed in with the remarkable information that Australian Ti Tree has a “different chemical profile to that of Manuka” that he had acquired from a scientist, and others appeared to be aware of the secretiveness of participants, and the difficulty of acquiring information.  But if you don’t ask, you don’t get!   

That simple fact reveals just how blinkered this Council, and its advisors have been in seeking alternatives to tourism, an industry that on present projections will swamp our facilities, and benefit very few of our rate-payers.

That said, Ben Day presented a 2016/18 Strategy and Work Programme that surpassed the quality of any of his previous reports. He has accumulated some remarkable statistical information (in graph form) that shows local economic performance and projections against national figures that provide very useful comparisons.

I get the impression that this is really Ben’s forte, and is perhaps an indication that he is not out of place working on economic planning. I would certainly like to see him far removed from HR, and IT decision-making. I thoroughly recommend a good look at this paper he presented on the matter.

I was interested to note that aquaculture (fish-farming version) received very little if any mention in any of the plans dealt with today, other than more or less as an afterthought in the Waikato Economic Development Strategy Update that was also presented to this meeting. This otherwise appears to reflect almost precisely TCDC plans tabled earlier, along with the EDC contribution to the Draft District Plan.

I left the meeting early, and there may have been more controversial matters discussed later, but there was no discernible tension at the point I departed – I think that this may have been contributed to by the relatively benign and easily digested information conveyed in Ben Day’s report.


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Reader Comments (2)

And yet back in 2011 as part of the Coromandel Blueprint project a detail Economic Development Strategy was produced. It had over 160 individual actions that were specifically targeted at each of the Wards and significant towns so that the benefits could be shared around. When Leach and French were briefed they looked at each other as if it was something from outer space. Most of the actions were no or very low cost often only involving a redirection of existing efforts. Guess it ended up in the bin.

May 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterInsider

I would guarantee the author of the Strategy & Work Programme would not be who you are directing the credit for Bill.

June 1, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterInsider observer

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