Residents talk with candidates (+video)

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Rotorua's airport, pedestrian crossings, cycleways and the City Focus were just some of the topics spoken about at the first official campaign meeting of the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group.

Residents of parts of Rotorua's east side got to share their views with some of the candidates standing for election to the Rotorua Lakes Council under the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group banner at a community meeting held at the Mokoia Community Centre yesterday.

Mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson and three of the group's six council candidates - incumbent councillor Peter Bentley, John Dyer and John Visser - turned up for the meeting.

The group's other candidates Julie Calnan, Raj Kumar and Rosemary MacKenzie did not attend.

About 20 people heard what the group had to say and offered their views on what they felt was going wrong in the district and how the residents and ratepayers group could help them.

Dr Macpherson described the campaign meetings as "grassroots consultation" where candidates introduced themselves before asking members of the public what they thought of the current council and its policies.

"When we came here in the 70s it [Rotorua] was booming," a woman in the audience said.

"You could drive around the whole city, and you could find a park. But the City Focus has choked the city centre," she said.

Others voiced their concerns about the Green Corridor and its newly installed pedestrian crossings, airport debt and pending renovations, and rates increases.

"The current set of plans are not cutting it at all," Dr Macpherson said.

Candidate John Visser said in response to a questions from the audience that the council should be employing local contractors to do its work, instead of out-of-town companies.

"Initially it may cost a bit more ... but we are a community so you have to support that community."

Mr Bentley spoke of his time on council, saying he had become "a little disillusioned".

"When you are a minority on council it's very hard to get things done." He said no one councillor should serve more than three terms (nine years) on council.

"The council must be refreshed."

Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group public meetings:

* Today: Linton Park Community Centre, 6 Kamahi Pl, 7pm - 9pm.

* Monday, March 21: Western Heights, 3 Brookland Rd, 6pm - 8pm.

* Saturday, March 26: Rotoma/Rotoehu Community Hall, 10.30am - 12.30pm.

* Sunday, March 27: Lake Tarawera, 582 Spencer Rd, 10.30am - midday.

* Sunday, March 27: Lake Okareka, Okareka Community Hall, 7pm - 9pm.

* Thursday, March 31: Rotorua East Bowling Club, Warwick Drive, 7pm - 9pm.

* Tuesday, April 5: Mamaku Hall, 7pm - 9pm.

* Friday, April 8: Reporoa Memorial Hall, 7pm - 9pm.

* Tuesday, April 12: Rerewhakaaitu Hall, 7pm - 9pm.

* Thursday, April 14: Ngakuru/Waikite, Bluff Club, Waikaukau Rd, 7pm - 9pm.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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