Truly Great Ball

I visited Wanganui from Sydney and attended the inaugural Great Ball last Saturday. I am overwhelmed at the community support and the spirit of collaboration that enabled the hosting of this event.

I felt more welcomed upon arrival than I ever have at any event, and from there on the evening just continued to deliver. The food, the service from a dedicated volunteer team and the organised timing that hit just the right note for the guest speakers. How impressive to have your police commissioner present to deliver such relevant and moving statistics.

The message and reason to be there was not missed at all and balanced well with the opportunity to have a stylish and wonderful evening.


Congratulations, Wanganui and may your efforts be well rewarded with a declining need for a refuge for your dear families, and may your reputation as one of New Zealand's best communities be well known.


Use it or lose it

Regarding Air Chathams: Last week, I had that great experience flying from Wanganui to Auckland.

The great experience started by accessible car parking at Wanganui Airport, where I was greeted enthusiastically by the Air Chathams staff inside. The terminal was warm and the coffee delicious.

We were invited to enter through the gate to the Saab, an excellent aircraft, and were greeted by friendly and hospitable staff aboard the aircraft. Inflight service was provided with a fresh glass of water, a cup of coffee or tea, biscuits and -- towards the end of the flight -- we were given the customary sweet. On landing at Auckland Airport, the inflight staff provided with us the information we required regarding luggage and other details of Auckland.

The next day I returned to Auckland Airport for my flight back to Wanganui. The Auckland staff were equally willing and obliging, helping me with my travel plans to Wanganui. The inflight crew were again hospitable, kind, generous with lots of smiles. The in-service was again brilliant.

Again, that friendly hello and, in some cases, they remembered the faces of passengers -- "Hello, you have been with us before in Wanganui".

So the fares were extremely reasonable, the inflight service great, the number of flights excellent.

We need to support this airline, otherwise we will lose it.

If we lose this service, it's not because of the excellence of service, the flight schedule or the pricing; it's because people have chosen another city to depart from -- ignoring the service that Air Chathams provides.

So I encourage you -- please support this air link to Auckland city. I encourage all to utilise a company that is prepared to invest many hundreds of thousands of dollars into our community.

We all have a choice; my flight experience was exceptional. We have a link with the outside world with a small but well managed, exceptional carrier, please support them.


Not so affordable

So Kym Fell, CEO of the Wanganui District Council, is of the belief that the new WWTP is "affordable" (letters, August 15) but as with all political statements there are no qualifiers as to who might find it affordable. Perhaps I can offer some suggestions.

For a start there is Mr Fell himself, well remunerated by the ratepayers of Wanganui.

Who else? Well, of course, the newly titled managers in the WDC. No doubt a change of title occasioned a suitable rise in pay.

Another would be the cultural adviser when he is appointed - $150,000 a year for a cultural adviser? Even someone with the oratory skills of Winston Churchill would be hard-pressed to justify that amount for one person. I still believe the money would be far better given to marae to assist with their excellent social work in return for the occasional cultural advice that the council may need.

Down the monetary scale a bit is the burgeoning number of graduates the council employs. Those who own homes in Wanganui shouldn't be too hard-pressed.

But what about the average ratepayer, Mr Fell? Do you really believe they can afford this scheme? Statistics for Wanganui show the average annual income is well below the national average and that there is a larger percentage of beneficiaries and people on fixed incomes than in other centres.

Even the council's own documents show the population is forecast to decrease, i.e. a smaller number of ratepayers.

Finally, regarding increasing business in the city, which the council is trying to promote: Every dollar taken from ratepayers by council rates and levies is one less dollar of discretionary spending those ratepayers have. It is no use taking so much discretionary spending money away and expecting businesses and their numbers to grow as well. (Abridged)


Kick them out

Those councillors that voted or the new $41 million wastewater plant should be kicked out of office, and the new chief executive should be sacked. Three people on the present council are not standing again, and yet they are prepared to put us in debt; they wouldn't leave the wastewater system for the incoming council to deal with.

You have put a burden on most of the Wanganui ratepayers, especially the low-income workers and the pensioners who will see their rates go up just to pay for this new plant, where they could have voted to reinstate the old plant at the approximate cost of $12 million. This would have saved ratepayers around $30 million. (Abridged)


+ Ian Brougham is standing for the Whanganui District Council in the October elections.


Marijuana poll

How on earth can anyone claim that New Zealanders want to decriminalise the use of pot, when only 1029 people were polled out of a population of 4.6 million?

Out of that group, only about one third voted to legalise and the same to decriminalise and a further 33 per cent wanted the law to remain as it is.

I can accept that the use for medical reasons needs to be carefully considered, but there need to be strict rules so that there are no loopholes for abuse. Do we want our kids to grow up on a permanent high ?