Mayor urges ES to keep interests in focus
Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt has called on Environment Southland to become more involved in community projects after it refused to give any money toward the cash-strapped Stadium Southland rebuild.
Environment Southland had a "very different view of community support to other regional councils throughout New Zealand", Mr Shadbolt said.
"I would like to see them get more involved in community projects."
He said Environment Southland was very focused on the environment but under the Local Government Act it was also required to act in the interests of the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of the community.
"They do the environment but I think they are a bit light on the other aspects," Mr Shadbolt said.
Other regional councils throughout the country contributed to infrastructure in their communities, he said.
He believed Environment Southland had started taking more interest in the economic wellbeing of the region by attending Venture Southland meetings but encouraged them to widen their perspective.
Environment Southland was in a financially powerful position and was funded by urban as well as rural ratepayers, with Mr Shadbolt questioning what it did for the urban environment.
Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms yesterday hit back at the mayor's concerns.
She said Environment Southland had asked the public in its long-term plan whether it should put money toward the Stadium Southland rebuild and the answer was a resounding no.
"They don't see that as our role."
Environment Southland contributed to Invercargill's social, cultural and economic wellbeing by providing flood protection, walkways and cycleways, and it played a big role in civil defence emergency management, Ms Timms said.
She agreed that regional councils across the country operated differently but said they had different funding sources.
Environment Southland got money from its 66 per cent shareholding in South Port and its councillors took the view that a lot of its funding was gained through agricultural produce being shifted through the port, she said.
"Our view is that the money goes back to the environment that produces that wealth."
Ms Timms said the heart of Invercargill's economy was based on the services the city provided to the rural sector.
"We are in charge of managing resources in the environment and if they are managed sustainably it produces a lot of the wealth within the city."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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