Against all odds, the Tokyo Olympics are well under way and what incredible competition we have been treated to.
Any spare time taken to watch the Games and in particular the Kiwis, in action has been time well spent, especially in a household where the mayoress owns the remote and no negotiation is the norm. The intensity of the competition, the commitment, endurance and sheer skill of the competitors is totally enthralling.
I've had a little competition myself recently. Although not quite at the same level as an Olympic athlete, actually nowhere near the same level as an Olympic athlete, I agreed to take part in the Dry July challenge.
The challenge is to go without any alcohol for the month of July and despite being in many tempting situations, I am proud to say that after 31 days without a drop, I survived and made it through the month.
It's probably not worthy of a medal, so the sense of achievement will suffice and being none the worse for the experience, I recommend the challenge to others.
Coincidentally, the Stratford District Licensing Committee tabled its Annual Report to the Policy and Services committee meeting last week.
There are some interesting statistics within the report that demonstrate the Stratford District is very stable when it comes to liquor licences with a total of 32 outlets at June 30, 2021, compared to 33 outlets at June 30, 2020 and 27 outlets at June 30, 2017.
On-licences accounted for 13 of the current total, off-licences accounted for 10 and club licences made up the balance of nine.
The Stratford District Council does have a shared Local Alcohol Policy that is applied jointly with the New Plymouth District Council. The policy controls many aspects of liquor sales and supply, but the number of licences is unspecified and is largely left to market forces which seems to have worked satisfactorily over the last five years.
During the last 12 months, 13 individuals were granted new manager's certificates and 32 individuals had their existing manager's certificates renewed.
Another statistic that caught my eye recently was how much the median house price has increased for the Stratford District.
At the end of May the median was $370,000, being a 27.58 per cent increase from $290,000 just a year earlier. This compares well to our northern neighbour that experienced a 26 per cent increase over the same period.
Over the last 11 months, the number of properties sold was 164, confirming the local property market is consistent with the market madness being experienced throughout the whole of New Zealand.
We had two distinguished guests visit Taranaki last week. Transport Minister Michael Wood had meetings with the region's three mayors and the Regional Transport Committee members. I was fortunate to attend both.
It was a valuable opportunity to raise our concerns about the poor condition of the region's state highways and the lengthy delays with the capital works scheduled for the region. The minister confirmed a significantly increased maintenance works programme during the coming summer.
Our other special guest was Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy who invited South Taranaki mayor Phil Nixon and myself to join her and the supporting entourage for lunch.
After five years in the role, Dame Patsy is due to finish her term as governor-general at the end of September. She spoke very fondly of her visits to Taranaki and was very impressed with the Predator Free 2050 programme that is being undertaken in the region.
A very enjoyable occasion and a great chance to hear some insights into the role of the governor-general.