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Public rank water network upgrades as top investment priority

Local News

More than 9,400 people had their say on what NPDC’s priority work programmes should be over the next decade and how more than $2 billion of public funds should be invested.

Called the Top 10 Kōrero which took place over 11 weeks, the public were asked to give feedback on proposed work programmes from Water to Zero Waste, to Tracks and Trails, to the Climate Response to a Marina, to what role NPDC should play in any future Multi-sport hub at the Racecourse.

Now the Mayor and Councillors have the huge job of deciding what’s in and what’s out of the draft 10-year plan for further public feedback later this summer, followed by final approval of the plan by the end of June 2021.

“Thanks to everyone who contributed to the more than 9000 responses received on options to help shape our community over the next decade. Just like your kids’ Christmas present list for Santa, we can’t do it all and have to balance needs and wants with our collective ability to fund the future through rates. We’re looking to reduce our overheads where possible, pitching projects to Central Government for funding while at the same time realising there has been years of underinvestment in core services like our water and wastewater networks,” says New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom. 

“We’ve got some big decisions to make in producing a draft 10-year budget over the next two months and then we’ll run a formal consultation programme to again seek everyone’s views on where we are going as a community before developing the final plan in June 2021.” 

The public surveys in the Top 10 Kōrero were targeted at two distinct groups and were designed with independent data experts to ensure they were scientifically robust. One group was to the general public and a second representative group was formed to make sure views reflected the demographic make up of the district.

People were asked to rank their investment priorities and fixing the ageing water network came out top in both groups:

Representative group                         
1. Water upgrades                          
2. Thriving towns and cities               
3. Zero Waste                              
4. Tracks and trails                       
5. Climate response                     
6. Covid response                          
7. Multi-sport hub                         
8. A marina                                
9. Let’s Kōrero or public conversations    
10. Water meters                            

General public
1. Water upgrades
2. Multi-sport hub
3. Thriving towns and cities
4. Tracks and trails
5. Zero Waste
6. Climate response
7. Covid response
8. A marina
9. Let's Kōrero or public conversation
10. Water meters

In more detail, the representative group was more likely to pay a small rates increase (or less likely to oppose a rates increase) for the following six work programmes:

  • Zero Waste
  • Tracks and trails
  • A multi-sport hub
  • Thriving towns and cities
  • Covid response
  • Water upgrades.

In more detail, the general public was more likely to pay a small rates increase (or less likely to oppose a rates increase) for the following six work programmes:

  • A multi-sport hub
  • Extending tracks and trails
  • Thriving towns and cities
  • Water upgrades
  • Zero Waste
  • A marina.

Other key takeaways were:

  • Tracks and trails was the service with the highest overall level of satisfaction.
  • The most feedback on any single issue was on a potential multi-sport hub with around 1,500  responses.
  • There was an unwillingness to pay a medium or large rates increase.
  • Water meters and more public conversations were the least favoured options.

The full results from the independent data company are available here.