Mayor Helen's blurb from the Feilding & Rangitīkei Herald - July 2023

Council is currently engaging with our community about what activities, projects and levels of service you want Council to consider including in our next Long-term Plan.

Timing to do this couldn’t be worse with so many central government reforms up in the air, with uncertainty beyond our control about what Councils will be responsible for over the next couple of years, let alone the next 10 years.

The Three Waters Reform is now an election issue, with this Government hellbent on taking our community assets without compensation and losing local decision making ability, with little evidence to show that our District will be better off either financially or infrastructure growth wise.

The Resource Management Act reform aimed to make consenting easier and better for the environment. Instead the Act is proposed to be broken into 3 new Acts being Natural & Built Environments, Strategic Planning and Climate Adaptation, with much of this to be managed at a regional level, again losing our local voice.

Then there’s the Future of Local Government reform, which in our view should have been tackled first, before looking to take major roles off local Councils. The first report out recommends 17 changes to how Councils operate. Our team has discussed these and we have a range of differing views. The most consistent view is that there is not enough detail yet to form a fully informed view. We agree that local government does need to change, especially our funding structure via rates, which is not sustainable. We are open to doing things differently, provided they achieve a better outcome than how we currently do things. The key is being able to retain our local voice in local decision making, as successful communities around the world show that decisions are best made as close to the people who are affected by those decisions – known as Localism.

Recently I had the privilege of presenting some Long Service medals to a number of our Feilding Fire & Emergency volunteers. Their service is a team effort with employers of our volunteers allowing time off work, often at a moment’s notice and the volunteers’ families who share their loved one’s time with us. These volunteers do much more than fight fires and in rural communities such as ours, the chances of a volunteer turning out for a medical event or an accident to someone they know, or have a family connection too, is highly likely. This makes their job so much harder.

So thanks to our Fire & Emergency team for putting your lives on the line to save our people and our property, generously giving your time and caring for our community.

Congratulations to the 33 young people who graduated from the Feilding CACTUS Youth Development programme recently. Again a huge community effort with volunteers and donations giving our young people an opportunity to improve their mental and physical fitness, learn discipline, self-esteem, leadership skills and teamwork. Having seen firsthand the amazing  changes in motivation and attitude, my aim would be to offer the CACTUS programme to every District student going to secondary school. The challenge is how we expand the capacity to run this programme without burning out our volunteers. Ideas are welcome.

Meantime, take care and stay safe!
Mayor Helen Worboys