Editorial: Sirens wail on wasted money

By Dylan Thorne

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So, the Tauranga City Council is back to square one with tsunami sirens after spending $190,000 trying to find a way forward.

No doubt ratepayers will be disturbed to learn such a large sum has been spent for so little gain.

Yesterday, we reported that the council voted to stop its contract with electronic siren supplier Meerkat and to instead hold a workshop to discuss what needs to happen next to warn of incoming tsunami.

Most of the $190,000 was spent on Meerkat's contract to design and consent an electronic alarm system for the vulnerable low-lying areas of Tauranga. However when this work revealed there would be a cost blowout to achieve the siren coverage wanted by the council, it decided not to install the system.

The other big stumbling block was the discovery there would be "significant difficulties" obtaining consent for Meerkat's network of sirens because most of alarm installations on poles would result in "adverse visual effects" and would have to be publicly notified.

The about-turn will come as no surprise to the Papamoa Progressive Association, which has battled the plan to use the Meerkat system from the outset in favour of using a much cheaper option - howling World War II sirens.

The association went to great lengths to make its point, even testing their sirens in October, after residents complained the system tested by the council was not loud enough.

I have said the association deserves credit for resisting the council plan and showing that people power is alive and well in the Bay. The association can claim with some authority that the council could have saved ratepayers a lot of money if it had listened to residents' concerns about the volume of electronic alarm systems at the outset.

It is time the council gave some serious thought to the alternative put forward by the association. It could save us money in the long run.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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