OPINION: Amidst debate over issues with projects with six-figure price tags, Palmerston North City councillors again said no to a request for funding from Himatangi lifeguards.
The surf lifesavers had asked for $10,000 – a paltry sum in comparison with the council's budgets and big-ticket items like the proposed bus terminal, Globe Theatre redevelopment and the new wildlife centre at The Esplanade.
The lifesavers' money was to help cover the cost of weekday patrols for six to eight weeks in December, January and February. That is not to say the council should have approved the lifeguards' request because it was a relatively small sum of money; submissions to any annual plan throw all sorts of requests for money.
What is concerning, however, is that when the request came up at a recent council meeting it was, according to our reporter in the meeting, "skimmed over without comment" and denied.
This snub came after Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said in November that his council, Manawatu District Council and Horizons Regional Council needed to sit down to discuss the funding issue. More than six months later, that meeting has not happened. Nonetheless, MDC look set to again give the lifeguards $10,000 for the coming summer and Horizons has not ruled out a grant. Last year the regional body stumped up $5000 to help cover a shortfall in cost. So it's only the city that has not come to the party.
Yes, Himatangi is in the neighbouring Manawatu District Council's jurisdiction, but the majority of the 2500 to 5000 people who visit Himatangi each day over the peak period would be from Palmerston North.
The past summer was quiet; just three people were rescued at Himatangi among 10 saved at beaches along the Manawatu and Horowhenua coasts. But the previous summer, Himatangi Beach lifeguards rescued 15 people. Add to that several hundred interventions each summer to prevent swimmers from getting into trouble and the benefit of having people with first aid training.
Whether the benefits of the service towards the safety of its residents is worth $10,000 to the city is a question for its elected representatives. However, it is a question that is worth talking about.
ONE MORE THING
How great was it to see local lad Aaron Smith make his All Blacks debut on Saturday night? While much of the kudos went to fellow debutant Julian Savea, who scored three tries in the 42-10 win, Smith barely put a foot wrong. His passing from the ruck was fast and on target, earning praise from commentator and former All Black No9 Justin Marshall. The only downside? That Smith did not get to share the field with fellow Turbo Aaron Cruden.
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