Re-election bid to enhance growth

By Victoria White

2 comments
Hastings Ward councillor Rick Barker hopes to continue in his role.
Hastings Ward councillor Rick Barker hopes to continue in his role.

It is time for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to tackle the big issues - and councillor Rick Barker is enthusiastic about being part of that job.

Mr Barker will be standing for re-election as Hastings Ward councillor.

He said the past three years had been a "learning process" and he was proud of the work council had done on pest control and the "world-class" Cape to City projects.

However, the amalgamation debate had been a "big issue" during his first term and the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme is "something that you can't help but say has been a distraction".

Mr Barker said it was time for the council to turn its focus to enhancing economic growth and environmental management.

"The regional council is mightily placed to provide leadership for the region. We've done an excellent job in promotion tourism and business development but more can be done."

The former MP said Hawke's Bay needed to take advantage of being in a "very strong growth period" and use the opportunities available.

The region's fundamental industries, "across the board", are the strongest he had seen in 20 years. Although there had been problems in apples and horticulture, they, and other industries such as viticulture, beef and sheep farming, were "in good shape".

"The biggest challenge for the regional council is to recognise fully what is happening in terms of growth we're seeing and to work together to maximise benefits for the region."

However, Mr Barker said that had to be done with the environment in mind.

"It's about how we continue to grow without compromising our fundamentals, which is the fertile soil of the Heretaunga plains."

If re-elected, Mr Barker's other areas of focus would include riparian planting, restoring fish life and improving water quality.

"In local government there is no end state ... there's always going to be work to be done," he said.

"There is plenty to do ... and I want to get on with it."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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