We need 5000 more homes

The downside of the economic growth we are experiencing here in Whanganui is that some unfortunate people are struggling to find rental accommodation, which has also become much more expensive.

Sure, things have got more expensive - builders, plumbers, electricians, etc, are so busy with all the new builds around town that they can now charge more - and the value of housing has risen.

However, growing our population, regardless of its unintended consequences, is extremely important - it helps spread the rates burden among more people and creates jobs, which keep our young people from needing to go further afield to find employment.


Rates are too expensive in Whanganui because of the cost to build the much-needed wastewater treatment plant and also because there are not enough people to share the cost of running a district council.

We could do with another 5000 homes in Whanganui and that would reduce rates. It's called economies of scale. For those on low incomes who are struggling to find accommodation, don't blame the godsend of economic growth that has finally arrived. Blame the previous National Government for selling off over 20 per cent of state houses in Whanganui.

While the new Coalition Government has already started to build more here, many more are needed, and we need to put pressure on the Coalition Government to do that. And, if you think things are tough in Whanganui, where housing is some of the cheapest in New Zealand, try living elsewhere.

If you can't afford to live here, you can't afford to live - and that is a central government problem, not a district council problem.


Hull lot of profit
[Regarding the boat hull in Putiki that may become Airbnb accommodation]. Most encouraging to read Ms McDouall's mention of the word "profit".


Bridge needs flexibility
The Dublin St Bridge gives a rough ride despite recent resealing. This problem came to attention during the 1990s, when I was a member of the council, and our engineers explained that high axle loads from modern trucks and buses were flexing the bridge more than in the past.


The bridge deck consists of steel trough sections that were filled and topped with lightweight concrete to make a level surface. Coke from the gas works was used as aggregate for this brittle concrete which had shattered from the flexing. Replacement with standard concrete would increase the weight of the bridge structure, reducing its payload.

I was scoffed at for suggesting replacement with expanded polystyrene, which is sometimes used in road embankments where soil conditions will not support solid earth fill. Since then successive engineers have experimented with different types of seal but none of them solve the underlying problem, the fractured sub base.

A recent development is flexible concrete which uses fine aggregates such as silica or fly ash together with micro fibres and super plasticisers. This reduces weight and increases the tensile strength of the concrete so that it can bend without cracking. It sounds like an ideal solution for our bridge.

Our engineers back in my day, in response to my questioning, assured us that the bridge will last indefinitely if it is properly maintained. So I don't understand why current councillors and engineers keep harping on about replacing it. Their justification appears to be traffic jams on the bridge but that could be fixed for peanuts by removing the Dublin St roundabout and putting in a compulsory stop for southbound Aramoho vehicles to allow free flow of bridge traffic. A small amount of imagination is required, which seems to be lacking.


Make drugs legal
For once I can find some agreement with Jay Kuten, and Chester Borrows as well; the policing of drugs does more damage than the drugs, with the jailing causing tremendous amounts of collateral damage.

I have written before to this paper about legalising all drugs, selling through drug stores to people with an identifying points card so we have quality control, a tax take, cutting the supply of money to the drug cartels and the petty crooks. And the computer can red-flag excessive consumption, so we can approach them before they jump out of the woodwork and kill people.

Now we have to hope we can find some politicians brave enough to take on the bleeding hearts.