Maketū and Te Puke Community Boards were both due to meet this week, but with the country still in Covid-19 lockdown, neither meeting took place.

Maketū Community Board chairman Shane Beech said although the official meeting had been cancelled, board members were still in contact with one another.

''We are using the Zoom program now to keep communication going.''

One of the principal matters keeping board members' minds occupied is making representations to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

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''Probably the main thing is, we are mindful of the Long Term Plan that is under consultation at the moment, so we are hard-out getting submissions ready for that - that's probably our main agenda at the moment, as well as the concerns about the Covid-19 situation.''

Shane says, despite the lockdown, the board is still keen to get feedback from the community on the Long Term Plan and their thoughts on the future of Maketū.

''Anything to do with parks and reserves, roading lighting and that sort of thing, we are interested in hearing any comments from them.''

Members of Te Puke Community Board are also part of the town's Community Response Team and have been regularly meeting via video link planning and helping, with other groups, to co-ordinate help for the most vulnerable.

''This has been a busy time for us,'' community board chairman Richard Crawford says.

''Although we are in lockdown and cannot attend or have public meetings, we still have our role to play as the community board and we are working on our submissions to the annual plan.''

Richard also prepared a chairman's report highlighting several ongoing initiatives.
Work on replacing some of the plants in the town centre was to have begun this month after consultation with landscaper Trish Waugh.

''We said we wanted to work more closely with her and came up with some suggestions and so that's a work in progress,'' he says.

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''It's not ripping out and totally replacing [existing planting], but resolving some of the issues such as pedestrian crossings where people in cars struggle to see people walking up.''

The plan also aims to reduce the amount of periodic maintenance with more appropriate lower and slower-growing plants and adding more colour in better places, Richard says.

Trish also identified some planting she felt could be changed.

The board has also had its say on the design of a new fence to be put up on the boundary between Jubilee Park and the stock route (between Stock Rd and Jocelyn St), with the board wanting to ensure plans for an extension to the Jubilee Park skate park and a possible pump track were safeguarded.

Richard says he would also like to see KiwiRail put a fence between the stock route and the railway line.

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Other issues raised:

At the community board's last meeting, approval was given for the funding of four new CCTV cameras in Te Puke. Final approval from council has stalled due to alert level 4 restrictions, but Richard says the board is keen to get the new cameras in place as soon as possible.

''For us, and working with police, they prove to be very, very valuable.

''We feel the CCTV cameras are an important aspect to safety in our town, not only for the police but also protecting assets and making our parks safe.''

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Connecting with Te Puke's young people was an important issue raised by many candidates at last year's local body elections, and Richard says the board is keen to make good its commitment to engaging young people.

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He says the board hopes to find a Te Puke High School student to regularly attend board meetings and workshops.

''We are looking at tapping into the student leadership team and possibly what we will do is get them to discuss things among themselves and come up with some topics and then have a representative come to our meetings and sit in on our decision-making so we can hear their voice, although they won't have a vote.''

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The board is pushing for an upgrade to the public toilets on Commerce Lane. The Commerce Lane carpark is the only currently available freedom camping site in the eastern part of the Western Bay.

''One of the things we have talked about and which has now been highlighted with it becoming the sanctioned freedom camping spot for our area, is that there are no showers and the toilet block needs a revamp,'' Richard says.

''So we are asking council to look at doing that for the future. Because of our seasonal workers, it's something that's always going to be needed in Te Puke and if we are going to attract more tourists, we need to provide things like that.''

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