John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Council, DHB in united front

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Mayor Stuart Crosby.
Mayor Stuart Crosby.

An historic meeting of the political wings of the Tauranga City Council and Bay of Plenty District Health Board has resulted in a vow to work together to improve community health, including issues associated with homelessness.

Yesterday's first-ever get together vowed to make a difference and "get runs on the board" by combining the expertise and resources of each organisation.

Although the meeting did not drill down to specific actions, Mayor Stuart Crosby said Tauranga's rapid growth meant the council and the DHB should be looking for opportunities to work together to benefit the community. "It is about getting to know each other and identifying opportunities."

There was already a strong move towards an environment where people did not have to go to hospital. Current community initiatives included walking groups and green prescriptions for overweight people.

Housing and the growing number of families resorting to living in cramped accommodation like garages was another area where the DHB and the council could co-operate, he said.

Mr Crosby said the council had already held a couple of forums on homelessness. The council's community development manager, Megan Holmes, and councillor Steve Morris had started the ball rolling.

Another potential area for co-operation was tightening up on health aspects of planning because the council was quite loose about what developers could do. He questioned whether there should be a stronger focus in planning rules for new houses to be north-facing to capitalise on the sun, and whether open space provisions were meeting community recreation needs.

Tauranga's ageing population was another area where both organisations could improve infrastructure to keep people in better health.

Mr Crosby said he wanted to see early outcomes and runs on the board. "We know what the issues are."

DHB chairwoman Sally Webb said the meeting showed a willingness to put the thoughts of both organisations together to contribute to the health of the community. "As a DHB we are being challenged to reach out and develop the relationships that will help the health of the community."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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