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Council takes long-term plan on tour

Council takes long-term plan on tour
The Ashburton District Council adopted the draft long-term plan this week, with an extensive consultation period planned. PHOTO JONATHAN LEASK/LDR

Twelve presentations, five community meetings, three sausage sizzles, and one long-term plan.

It sounds like a Christmas song but it’s a summary of a wide-ranging community engagement strategy the Ashburton District Council is taking.

The draft long-term plan was adopted this week and a 68-page consultation document of highlights and key decisions is planned to go live on 27 March.

Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown said the council has the chance to set the direction for the next 10 years and the draft plan it has prepared is the opportunity for the community to say if they have got it right.

There is a focus on five big decisions but the whole plan is up for discussion, he said.

“We need to hear from the public.

“We welcome people’s submissions with comments on how we could do things differently.

“If someone wants to submit that they don’t like something, give us an alternative give us another suggestion and we can really have some meaningful discussion.”

To get that feedback, the council is taking a much more active approach with 25 engagement events over a month.

Councillor Russell Ellis was excited about the change in the consultation approach.

“We are doing it quite differently to any other way that I have done it before.

“This time we are going to the people. Instead of asking them to come to us.”

Councillor Phill Hooper wants the community to engage in the process rather than rely on online rants.

“I implore those people on social media who say council don’t listen to have their say officially.”

The consultation calendar opens with a community meeting in the Rakaia Community Centre on 4 April followed by a sausage sizzle at the Tinwald Pool on April 7 between 10am-2pm.

Further community meetings will be held in Mount Somers (April 9), Ashburton (April 16) and Methven (April 17)

A meeting specifically focussed on stockwater will be held at the Hinds Community Centre on April 15.

Other sausage sizzles are planned for Baring Square East (April 13) and the Methven iHub (April 20), with five day-time pop-ups also planned – four in Ashburton and one in Methven.

Councillors will also visit 12 community groups at their monthly meetings.

The consultation closes on April 27.

The long-term plan is due to be adopted by June 26.

By Jonathan Leask