Probably Hawke’s Bay’s most experienced Elected Representative, Alan served as Chairman of the Council in this term, and earlier served four terms as Mayor of Napier, leading a decade of major City revitalisation.
He has a Business Degree, is a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Management and was awarded a QSO honour for community service. Presently Chairman of the HB Lottery Grants Committee, he is a former director of Radio New Zealand and the Council owned Port of Napier.
He thinks and acts strategically, knowing the big issues facing Napier and Hawke’s Bay. He has a proven track record of getting things done.
Presently leading the campaign to save the Napier/Gisborne rail line, his priorities for the next Council include solutions to the Napier leasehold land issues and improved performance of the Council’s $270m. Investment Portfolio. Better investment income can mean reduced rates bills and fund improved environmental protection.
Top 5 Issues
- PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT
Lately, the Regional Council has made significant progress dealing with environmental challenges. Examples are the partnership with Central Hawke's Bay District to get municipal effluent out of the Tukituki River to safe disposal onto Regional Council forestry land. Similarly our intervention in the Taharua catchment, a headwater of the once pristine Mohaka River which, though dairy farming intensification, has been suffering an overload of farm generated nutrients. Assistance with improvement of farm management practices together with regulation of adverse effects, will provide solutions.
Earlier Councils relied almost exclusively on planning rules which have proved to be insufficient on their own. Tools such as financial interventions and incentives and if necessary, direct regulation, must continue to be used to face the increasing challenges to our water, soil and air environments.
Projects of direct significance to Napier residents include - "healthy homes" incentives to insulate houses and replace inefficient fireplaces and burners to improve our air quality, transformation of major city drains into landscaped "clean streams" over the next few years and tighter regulation of quality of stormwater discharges into the Ahuriri Estuary.
We can't afford to turn the clock back to a more passive "rules only" based approach.
- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
We are still in tough times with many people facing unemployment and general hardship. Fortunately, the Regional Council can and has initiated interventions which will increase prosperity and jobs in Napier and across the region.
Examples include likely expansion by the Port of Napier (now wholly owned by the Regional Council). Additional new business could see significant new port developments generating investment and jobs. The Regional Council may need to inject additional capital (non rate funded), into the Port to assist such developments.
Another major project is the planned $200 Million water storage scheme in Central Hawke's Bay, which by significantly increasing the area of irrigated land, could improve regional GDP by up to $300 Million per annum and generate up to 500 new jobs. The scheme is part way through a $2 Million feasbility study funded from Regional Council investment income and a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) grant. Naturally there will be direct benefits on farm and in Waipukurau and Waipawa, but the rest of the region will also benefit - from new food processing industries in Hastings and new business for the commercial services and transportation sectors (including the Port), in Napier.
Other positive influences include a restructured and more focussed Venture Hawke's Bay (the Council run Economic Development and Regional Tourism agency). Recent wins are Government approval and funding support for the Tukituki Valley "Landscape Ride" as one of only 13 approved New Zealand Cycle Trails projects. We continue to work on a Napier based "Water Ride" trail linking existing Napier coastal pathways with a route around the Ahuriri Estuary and out to Bay View.
- RATES AND THE INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO
One of my goals will be to eliminate the General Rate, which would presently save the average Napier residential ratepayer over $50 per annum and commercial and rural ratepayers considerably more.
How? - Council currently has an Investment Portfolio in the order of $270 Million. Income from the Investment Portfolio presently funds about one-third of HBRC's operating costs. But the fund only presently returns a modest 4.7% income return per annum (less than we could get if the money was in the bank). With better management of the fund a safe 6.5%- 7.0% return is considered quite attainable, within a few years. The extra income eventually generated would eliminate the need for the present $3.8 Million General Rate and provide significant additional funding for environmental protection initiatives.
Estabishment of a Council Controlled Holding Company is the essential first step to put the Council's funds management onto a more professional and profitable basis.
We should not forget that every extra dollar earned from investments means a dollar less we have to charge in rates or a dollar more we can spend to protect our environment. Again we have to continue to go forward to make progress.
- THE NAPIER LEASEHOLD LAND ISSUE
The Regional Council owns around 1,000 residential land titles in Napier City. The tenants (leaseholders) own the property improvements but pay ground rental for their land lease from the Council.
This was a good idea 40 or 50 years ago. It meant low cost housing starts as householders did not have to buy the land and ground rentals were relatively low.
However, today it is not such a good idea. A leaseholder renewing now with a land value of say $160,000 will have to pay $8,000 annual ground rent before any other housing or living costs. As well, many leaseholders are now elderly, living alone and on low or fixed incomes. While the freehold of the land can be purchased from the Council with about a 30% discount, finding the money is often beyond people's means. A further difficulty is that around 50% of the properties are cross-leased, which creates further freeholding difficulty.
Led by Napier elected members, the present Council has initiated a process that will lead to a review of all significant leasehold policies and in particular look at practical ways to make it possible for properties to be freeholded, to get out of the leasehold trap. The incoming Council will make those important decisions.
It is important to note that our motivation to find solutions is not just prompted by concern for hardship and for the Council to be socially responsible. It is also because the income yield from ground rentals is very low at around 2.5% per annum This is one reason for the present poor returns from the Investment Portfolio, referred to above. The Council would be better to get its money out, even at a significant discount, to reinvest in higher yielding and less sensitive investments.
- REGIONAL LEADERSHIP AND AMALGAMATION
It has been my privilege to be Chairman of the Regional Council for the past 18 months. Part of that responsibility has been to renew good relationships with the Region's Mayors, MPs Iwi and leaders in Commerce and the Land based Industries. I can say with certainty that present relationships are very productive. Together with my Mayoral colleagues we work cooperatively and effectively, particularly when it comes to promoting Hawke's Bay's case in Wellington.
A present example is the campaign to save the Napier/ Gisborne Rail service. As Chairman of both the Regional Council and the Hawke's Bay Regional Transport Committee, I have been privileged to take the lead at the Hawkes Bay end, with the close support of the region's Mayors and other significant stakeholders. This issue is a work in progress which we hope to be able to bring to a positive outcome in the next Council term.
As to the amalgamation debate, I will listen, remembering it is ratepayers and electors who will make the final decision. However, my general view on this topic is "if it's not broke, don't fix it", - that evolutionary change, co-operation and shared services is a better way to make progress and that our different communities need to be able to decide their own futures and priorities. Lastly we need time to observe and consider the success or otherwise of the Auckland Super City model.
Finally, an issue the new Council will have to address, is to deal constructively with the implications for natural resource management of several Treaty settlements between the Crown and Iwi, which will certainly occur across the region over the next few years.
I am a long term resident and ratepayer of Napier City. I believe it is vital that your elected representatives have that direct affinity, connection and accountability, even though we must and will serve the whole of the region. Check other candidates in that respect.
Between Liz and I we have a large extended family living right here in Napier and Hawke's Bay.. We, with you, have a big stake in the region's future. I know that effective Local/Regional Government can make a positve difference.
With many years experience including four terms as Mayor of Napier, I know Local Government, I know how to make a difference and have a track record of getting things done.
My business and community service background means I know the real world and the challenges we face, as our city and region struggles out of the recession. Personally, I am optimistic but don't underestimate problems. I look at the big picture, but make sure the detail is attended to. I speak out on issues. I believe in co-operation and teamwork but lead from in front.
The Regional Council today is pro-active, invigorated and a positive influence in the province. It has very good staff. There is much major work in progress. I would like a further term, ideally continuing as Chairman, to bring some very good work to final fruitiion. We need to continue to keep our foot on the "go pedal".
Your support will be appreciated. - I promise my continued full commitment, smart hard work,energy and results.
Authorised by Alan Dick of 3 Newbury Place, Taradale, Napier