Dannevirke: Businessman to join mayoral race

By Christine McKay

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Dannevirke businessman Allan Benbow is standing for the Tararua mayoralty. Photo / Christine McKay
Dannevirke businessman Allan Benbow is standing for the Tararua mayoralty. Photo / Christine McKay

"Can I make a difference and can I do a worthwhile job?"

Those were the questions Dannevirke businessman Allan Benbow asked himself before deciding to contest the Tararua mayoralty which will be vacant when Roly Ellis steps down in October.

"I don't want to go into council just to make up the numbers," Mr Benbow said."I've been struggling to make my decision and I want to feel as though I can make a difference."

Born and bred in Dannevirke, Mr Benbow said the district has been very good to him and his family.

"So, if there's something I can contribute to the future of our district, I'm keen to do what I can," he said.

Being Tararua District mayor would be all about unity, Mr Benbow said.

"I'd like to see us have a unified council and council organisation as well as a unified district."

Mr Benbow, has been general manager of Dannevirke company Metalform since 2005 and before that was involved in setting up the investigation committee which put Woolspinners together in 1975.

"I called the first meeting in 1973 and worked full time for the company, before being involved in its sale to Feltex," he said. "I held various roles in Feltex, including that of general manager of BTR Wool group based out of the head office here in Dannevirke. In those days 180 people worked here."

One of the key things Mr Benbow wants if he wins the mayoral seat is support for current businesses and organisations in the district.

"Another key issue for me will be supporting growth in new and existing businesses, because jobs are key," he said.

On the board of Scanpower for more than 20 years and chairman for the past four, Mr Benbow said he'd like to facilitate growth for companies such as NNNZ Casings Limited.

"It has the potential to increase job numbers and I'm also working with a new, high-tech manufacturing company being established at Oringi. It will be good, not just for our district, but for New Zealand."

However, Mr Benbow said he's very conscious that support for business must be spread throughout the Tararua.

"It's been exciting seeing Scanpower become something more than an electricity distribution company," he said. "From The Warehouse building in Dannevirke, to buying Norsewear and developing it into the Kiwi Sock Company and then buying the former Oringi Freezing Works site at Oringi and establishing a business park, to now developing our contracting business and seeing it grow and develop, especially in the Kapiti and Manawatu areas, has been particularly satisfying.

"And with two iwi in this district nearing the end of their Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiations, there is a real opportunity to support and facilitate to help them maximise the benefits for their people and the community as a whole."

A key member of the Tararua Economic Impact Group, Mr Benbow produced a report which highlighted the detrimental affect Horizons Regional Council's One Plan in its original form would have had on the district - predicting a $60 million hit. Mr Benbow would like to see changes in the way Tararua District Council deals with ratepayers. "It's important local government has a culture of treating ratepayers as customers and I'd want to make sure ratepayers get the best deal from their rates," he said.

Mr Benbow is retiring from Metalform on June 30.

Tararua District councillors Shirley Hull and Tracey Collis have already announced they will be standing for the mayoralty.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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