Over the next few weeks, we wil be printing the questions we asked, with the answers we received from the candidates, in the paper and online.
If you have a question you would like candidates to answer, come to the Stratford Press / Newstalk ZB Candidates Evening at the Stratford War Memorial Centre on September 18. Doors open at 6pm.
This week, candidates answer the questions:
1. What do you think the 'worst decision' council has made in the past three years?
2. What is the biggest issue or problem you think Stratford is facing - and what is the answer?
Candidates answer (in reverse alphabetical order):
1. With careful planning, consideration, discussion and attention to detail council ensures that decisions made are not "bad" ones.
2. Along with the demands of maintaining a solid infrastructure, continuing to improve roading, footpaths and water supply, we must strive to set rates that are sustainable to our ratepayers, and if possible comparable with those of our neighbours.
We must continue to be innovative and cost-conscious, while maintaining Stratford as a safe, attractive and healthy place to live.
1. On a whole, I think Stratford District Council is doing a pretty good job but suspending a sitting councillor from council meetings, in my opinion, was a very irresponsible decision. The council needs to work together as a team in the best interest of Stratford, other disciplinary actions could have been undertaken.
2. I think the biggest problem Stratford faces is that the Stratford District Council does not seem to want to see Stratford grow to its full potential.
How do we solve this problem? Well, we can start by voting Mathew Watt for the Urban ward.
1. "Worst decision" is a little heavy handed, but I find the lack of moral and ethical accountability of some of the current councillors quite alarming.
Targeting the poor is just deplorable, however the pragmatic approach of other councillors I highly commend.
2. One of the biggest issues is the damaged roads in and around Stratford district. Some of the roads feel as though have haven't been particularly cared for.
Securing funding is the answer, and council is making headway in that direction.
1. I don't believe we have made any bad decisions over the last three years.
When we make a decision, we have been well informed by staff and have had the chance to discuss it at length in workshops and ask questions. We have made all our decisions with the information provided.
2. Growing our population and keeping Stratford affordable.
Making sure we have enough services, health care and housing for new residents. Keeping Stratford a safe community.
1. The worst decision the council has made is the decisions they haven't done in the eyes of the public, most critical votes from within are left unknown behind closed doors, the ratepayers and public often do not know who voted for what, We need a more transparent council who are prepared to stand behind and stand up for their votes! (Sic)
2. Economic wellbeing going forward is of big concern both in addressing added costs for our ratepayers and allowing growth that will secure new and existing business and employment in our district to flourish. A council should be seen to be leading the way in securing investment in growth going forward not standing back with our hands instructing others to come to our aid.
1. Having only recently moved back to Stratford I am not familiar with a decision that could be considered the worst.
One common issue I hear of is the footpaths, people trip on the paving which is an area of concern.
There might need to be a more permanent fix rather than continuing to patch these up as needed. As a councillor I would be contributing to any decisions based on the information available at the time and keeping the community focus at the front of my mind.
2. Ensuring we think local first!
Stratford is a regional New Zealand town that is very close to our city of New Plymouth. A lot of people work in New Plymouth and travel there regularly, if we do not support our local businesses and events then it will reduce the offerings we have here in the future.
I want to see Stratford continue to build as a vibrant community with successful businesses. This brings people into the town to live, ensures we have jobs available for locals and plenty of options to attract people here to enjoy our town.
1. In my opinion the council should never have closed ANZ bank and the building should stay as it was jobs lost in our area and a bank well used by most Stratford residents.
I like the area we have already by the library and by opening it up will become more of a wind tunnel.
2. We need more businesses to come into town.
1. Pulling out of the trilateral agreement with the other two councils with the transfer/refuse centre at Eltham.
2. Our overall appearance (we judge a town by its main street) our town is not inviting for people to stop and stay a while. We have fallen into a state of disrepair and we need a main street makeover now.
1. The waste management decision as there was a lot of money spent for nothing in the end. This of course was a decision made by all the councils not just Stratford.
2. Clubs and societies struggling to attract members and volunteers to join them. People aren't as willing to give the time with so many things more easily available. It's much easier now to be a user pays society rather than a contributor. If I was elected, maybe in my role as councillor we could facilitate the conversation of helping clubs join together to work more effectively and prudently.
1. There are at times split views on decisions that have been made. And I am not shy to have my say at the council table.
I stand up for what I believe is right and sometimes you just are out voted. This is why we need to have experience on council but always listen to new ideas. I don't think our council has made a worst decision.
2. Our biggest problem is looking after our ageing pipes and water treatment system. Our rural roads are also taking a lot of damage with storms, logging and larger tankers, etc.
1. Continuing to increase rates while increasing involvement in big ticket projects like pool upgrade and property developments. I want to see rates kept under control, I do not believe they have been set at an appropriate level. On top of this the decision not to lower the amount of councillors we have. Quality over quantity.
2. Roads, healthcare and our environment. Complex topics but the overarching issue is clear. Stratford's voice is not heard or felt in the halls of power.
Our current MP is in opposition and central government seems happy to pile on pressure to those in towns like Stratford and increase responsibilities on local government - but they fail to invest or support us. We need our council to be our biggest champion.
The best way to do this is by electing stronger representatives who want to be a part of the solutions.
1. Placing water meters on our water consumption. It's a high price for a free commodity.
2. I never see problems, only solutions.
1. Being a newcomer, this is a difficult question to answer when I haven't been across every decision council has made.
2. I believe the biggest issue we are facing the Stratford district is the costs associated with large weather events and the damage that is done to local infrastructure.
With large weather events happening more often, it could result in significant unexpected repair costs.
To rectify, I believe council should continue to campaign strongly to central government as some of this infrastructure is vital to link Stratford with the greater Taranaki area and the rest of New Zealand.
1. I believe the council should have had a stronger view on the rebuild of Yarrows Stadium.
2. Balancing out rate increases in alignment with new initiatives, these need to be evaluated under a "value for money approach" within the district.
1. Allowing Tranzit NZ to put those stupid high hedges on the roundabouts – people in small vehicles can't see through them, and the heavy traffic flows especially at school traffic times.
The solution is to put in a set of traffic lights at the Regan St end to create a break period for the traffic flow, hence allowing the other end to safely sort themselves out.
2. The issues facing us today are twofold.
One is industry and employment – covered in other answers, and the other is town image. What I mean by that is what one sees when driving though the main centre and glance at the building facades and the state of the verandas.
Also the upstairs cracks in the concrete filled with black sealer. This is not a good look and the owners should be brought to task over this, it is a disgrace. Presentation and image is what is required to begin with.
1. The central landfill appears to be council's worst decision, however it may turn out to be a master stroke. We made a decision regarding the construction of the landfill based on the information supplied at the time.
All three councils agreed to build the landfill as the cheapest option.
Close to completion, a contractor advised that they could accept all three councils' rubbish as their prices had reduced significantly.
Subsequently, we are about to truck all of our rubbish out of district, with the central landfill on hold.
This, however, has turned out to be future-proofing for our next generations.
2. The Stratford District Council is currently facing some serious infrastructure issues. These include ageing underground pipes, bridges, wastewater, and only a single water feed into town from the reservoir.
1. Did not answer this question.
2. While we have ageing infrastructure, our best product is people, let's try and retain the next generation of young talent so they can take us into the future.
1. Not providing a Stratford District view on the Yarrow Stadium upgrade. I consider as elected members representing the ratepayers of our district who were being asked to fund this development, we should have put forward our views.
2. Small and ageing population with a small rating base. It is essential Stratford continues to grow and attract families, retain more younger people after school or university to ensure businesses thrive, schools and essential services grow and improve.
A council surviving largely off rates and fees is financially unsustainable. Further central government assistance by way of a slice of GST or some other revenue will increasingly be required.
1. I don't feel that council has made any worst decisions at the time of making them. Sometimes situations have changed after the decisions have been made.
2. Stratford doesn't have huge issues or problems, but we must as a council make sure we don't over borrow. While at the moment Stratford has got "cheap money" with low interest rates, it is important we stay on top of repayments.
1. I don't believe that council has made a bad decision in the past three years, but I did oppose the closing of the central landfill and don't believe that it is the right decision going forward for Taranaki as there will be incurred costs to all ratepayers going forward into the future.
2. While still allowing for growth and prosperity for our district maintaining sustainable rate increases is one of our biggest issues going forward, as legislation from Government is incurring cost on every ratepayer.