Healthy debate brings about rates reduction

AFTER a healthy community debate the Opotiki District Council has cut its proposed average rate rise to 2.92 percent.

All parties opposed to the original 4.25 percent rise should be well satisfied.

It is to be hoped the 2.92 percent, to be confirmed on June 30, provides sufficient finance for the town to progress.

The finance manager, Bevan Gray, has indicated the reduction will cause belt- tightening.

The preparing of the council’s long-term plan – described as a massive job – will, for example, be undertaken by staff alone, without the aid of consultants.

In simple terms, the council will do it hard for the next year. Whether this staff-alone decision affects progress remains to be seen.

All business – and a council is a business – needs sufficient capital with which to progress. Cost-cutting often has consequences down the track.

The Opotiki council has suffered some community stick over the rates. Interestingly, the regional council, which will impose a further rate to fund flood protection work, seems to have escaped local public scrutiny. Perhaps the protesters should look at what the regional council proposes, too.

The regional council does not seem to have a system by which Opotiki people can call it to public account.

The council may argue local people can make representations to their locally-based elected regional council members. If representation to council members is the only public avenue, this is not good enough.

The regional council operates some distance from Opotiki; its affairs are little-reported in Opotiki. The people of Opotiki and district really have little idea what the council is up to.

The council needs to become more connected and to explain just what the town and district are getting for the rate it will impose.

Mike Fletcher

Opposed to heavy-handed beach dog ban

I AM writing to protest the proposed dog ban along our coast.

I am a resident of Ohiwa Beach and we take our dog walking on Ohiwa Beach almost every day. This keeps our dog healthy and it keeps us healthy too.
Many residents of this area own dogs and exercise their dogs and themselves on Ohiwa Beach.

Most days, we see no more than one or two other people on the long length of beach, if any.

Some people drive here to exercise their dogs and enjoy the very sparsely populated beach.

I would be interested to know the reasons for this ban. Is the bird life being harmed? Is the beach being fouled by dog poo?

If these are the reasons, this is not the first council to deal with these problems.

In other places, to deal with these problems in a more community-friendly manner, rules have been imposed that still allow people and their dogs to enjoy the beach, such as “dogs on a leash” ( at certain times of the year when birds are nesting) and “pick up the poos” for which many councils provide bags and disposal bins.

Surely such compromises could be reached, rather than a heavy-handed ban.

Dogs are an integral and important part of families and their recreation. Please don’t ban them from the beach.

Kay and Roy Hitchcock

Mean spirited local businesses

PRE-Covid-19 lockdown my family and I had booked into a local campground to celebrate our grandson’s seventh birthday. We paid a deposit of $360 and were really looking forward to the weekend. Then we were thrust into level four lockdown, so were unable to travel.

On inquiry to the campground about getting our deposit back, the lady told us that we were not entitled to a refund because it was not their fault the Government had placed travel restrictions New Zealand-wide.

I pointed out to her that it was through no fault of ours that we could not travel, and all we wanted was our deposit back.

After many emails, she was adamant she would not refund us but she would offer us credit to be used within 12 months.

This, I told her, was unacceptable as it was a one-off special occasion and we did not want to travel any other time.

I explained that she could be in breach of the Fair Trading Act, at which time she blanked me and her email replies dried up.

This was really disappointing because as a local I feel we were really hard done by. We always try to spend our hard-earned money locally to support local businesses, and have been let down.

I have since found out that we were not the only ones in this situation, and many people had a similar experience with this business.

To the Ohiwa Holiday Park, shame on you.

Not a Fair go

  • Ohiwa Holiday Park responds:

LIKE many businesses in the tourism sector and in our community, we have been severely affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The decision not to allow domestic travel was made by the Government and therefore it was of no fault of the traveller or, in our case, the holiday park.

When considering how we should apply our cancellation policy we decided to offer all guests a credit of 100 percent of the deposit paid, which could be used for any future booking at our park within a 12-month period.

By far the majority of our prospective guests that were impacted by Covid-19 have taken us up on this offer and have already stayed or rebooked using the credit to put toward a future holiday.

As a small family-owned business we believe that this policy offers both guests and ourselves an arrangement which is fair to all parties.

Nola and Todd Morgan
Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park