Letters to the Editor: rates rises, speed limits and floods

The flat, low-lying suburb of South Dunedin is surrounded by a harbour, the Pacific Ocean and...
The flat, low-lying suburb of South Dunedin is surrounded by a harbour, the Pacific Ocean and lines of hills, exposing it to sea level rise due to climate change. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including alternatives to rates rises, speed limits in Wānaka, and engineering solutions to South Dunedin floods.


Give us basic services, not nice-to-haves

"Raising rates only option", according to the mayor of the Central Otago District Council. This is incorrect as there are always other options.

It is a sad reality that the productive sector of the region is facing the worst downturn in income since the 1980s. This alone will have a significant effect on the GDP of the region, so every alternative way of saving costs has to be considered. Councils will delay the eventual economic recovery by adding additional costs now.

The increase in rates proposed by both the regional and district councils is unacceptable. The new government has started the process of reducing staff in government departments by 6.5%. This was a policy clearly stated prior to the election so there is no surprise. Local government has to take a similar line and look at unessential services and trim the costs of their operations.

Three Waters has come and gone, but the preparatory work has been done by councils to remedy water infrastructure. Any additional work required will be determined by the revision of the RMA and the National Water Plan.

Michael Laws of the Otago Regional Council was reported as saying the council was overstaffed by 50 people. It may be cheaper in the long term for ratepayers of councils to pay redundancy to unnecessary staff. Most ratepayers want basic services not "nice-to-haves".

Jim Barclay


Speed limits

I drive a heavy vehicle around Wānaka and find that a number of speed limit changes on the township’s roading system to be illogical. For example, Golfcourse Rd has a 70kmh limit but the roads at either end (Ballantyne and Cardrona Valley) have a 40kmh limit . The Mt Aspiring Rd within the township has a 40kmh limit but adjoining roads (Bills Way and Sargood Tce) have a 50kmh limit . These roads are considerably more built up than Mt Aspiring Rd, hence the likelihood of encountering children, pets, pedestrians etc is significantly greater.

If NZTA/QLDC consider that this approach will improve safety for all road users they are misguided. In fact this system exacerbates the possibility of mistakes and accidents as drivers can be so fixated on their speedos that their ability to assess risks, drive defensively and be spatially aware is impaired.

A related issue is the placement of no-passing lines on the state highways. Often they are on sections of highway where passing could occur safely, and conversely there are a number of locations where they are not present where passing would be very unsafe. Do the agencies responsible for the placement of no-passing lines actually drive on these roads?

John Milburn


All our yesterdays

Regarding the item in Today in History (ODT, 23.3.24) where it was stated that it was mostly Scottish settlers on the migrant sailing ship John Wickliffe. Of the total 97 passengers there were many English as well as Scottish passengers on this supply ship for the planned settlement in Dunedin. The leader on this ship was Scottish, former Army Captain William Cargill. His wife Mary Ann (nee Yates) was English. In the book, The History of Otago regarding this ship it was stated " ... a considerable number of the migrants were English." Surely the Today In History caption should read, "There were both Scottish and English migrants on the John Wickliffe." It was the sailing ship Philip Laing that had the 247 Scottish settlers.

John Neilson


Leave the engineering to the engineers

Wolf, wolf, shout Mary Williams and George Hercus (ODT 25.3.24). There is no new evidence to cause alarm of more frequent flooding, or more severe flooding of South Dunedin flats.

Thankfully the insurance industry doesn’t react to such emotive outbursts but is guided by its actuarial advisers who use facts to assess probability. The 2013 flood affected just part of the flats, an area covering parts of Forbury, St Clair and St Kilda, fed by just two catchments, augmented by local precipitation and maybe some run-off from adjacent hills, all collected and piped to the pumping station on Portobello Rd, thence a short distance to the harbour. The Dunedin City Council, after ducking for cover and delay of a couple of years admitted liability of 50%. It found its modifications to the pumps had compromised efficiency and its lack of maintenance of both mud-tanks, screens and pumps contributed markedly to the flooding.

Since then, we are told, modifications have been made to the system and maintenance of the system has been regularised. It follows should a storm of similar intensity and duration occur now the effects would be markedly less. Remember, no other of the city’s several stormwater drainage systems failed during that storm. They all functioned as designed. So let’s leave the engineering problems with the engineers to find solutions and pray the politicians have the wisdom to accept their advice.

Graeme Chesney


Not to be trusted

Penny Simmonds should butt out of telling the Otago Regional Council how and when, after years of research, they can start remedial work helping to recover the harm done over decades. Ms Simmonds is not to be trusted with something as precious as our water.

Mary Robertson


Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz