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Source: Whangarei District Council

This page contains a news story with Sheryl Mai answering public questions about Council’s response to the COVID-19 lock-down.

Updated: 2/04/2020 10:38 a.m.

​During the first week of the Covid 19 lockdown, Whangarei District Councillors and staff have received many questions from the public.

We will be updating our website and social media feed throughout the emergency to keep you up to date with latest developments.

Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai reports that one of the major themes coming through has been from businesses, questioning what support is available, and in particular, whether or not their rates or rent payments to Council can be altered. She responds:

“Our message is that we are looking into how the pandemic is affecting our district now, and how it is likely to affect it going into the future, and how to achieve the best over-all outcome for the entire District. “The aim is for fairness and good judgement. To make a good decision about rates and rentals and other income to Council we need to make a decision that will work best for the majority over the long-term.

“We have a programme of works lined up for the next ten years to provide the community with all the things Councils are responsible for – the kinds of things that keep a developed society going – things like sewage treatment, running water, transport routes, sanitation, waste management.  It includes running systems to ensure buildings are built properly and that district development happens in a way that makes the best use of the least resources, and protects the environment that sustains us and brings us so much pleasure and freedom.

“We are dependent on a large number of local contractors and businesses to complete this programme. It is a symbiotic relationship – we need each other, and rely on each other to look after the whole District.

“We are thinking about and planning for how we will be able to keep this up post-pandemic, when the economy may be in a very different situation than it has been up to Covid 19. That means decisions need to be very factual, we need to use the best forecasting we have, and doing that will take some time. It has often been proven that decisions made with proper consideration in advance usually result in better outcomes, and less clean-up needed later.

“So, I come to the question, what does Council exist for?  In my view it is to sustain communities. We will not be taking harsh action against people because that is not what we are here for. We know people are suffering, and we are concerned for the future.

“No one has put it better than the Prime Minister with her instruction to be strong, and kind. That is the approach we are taking. We are a strong District, a strong District Council, and we are here solely to serve the community. Any decisions that are made regarding things like rates and rentals will be made using all the information we can get. It will take time to debate and process.

“In the meantime, please call us if you or your business is in hardship because of Council costs. We will work with you to come up with a solution that will work for your individual situation. At the same time, a number of agencies, in addition to Council, can be approached for help.