Candidates discover common ground

Queenstown Lakes mayoral candidates, from left, Simon Hayes, Vanessa van Uden and Michael Scott...
Queenstown Lakes mayoral candidates, from left, Simon Hayes, Vanessa van Uden and Michael Scott at the Lake Wanaka Centre yesterday. Photo by Marjorie Cook.
The three mayoral candidates for the Queenstown Lakes District Council were in a collegial and relaxed mood at yesterday's public forum jointly hosted by the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Daily Times.

The forum was attended by about 30 people, who learned real estate agent and former councillor Simon Hayes, former council contracts manager and present councillor Vanessa van Uden and road inspections programmer Michael Scott were united on many issues.

They included reducing council costs, keeping a lid on soaring rates bills and promoting sustainable businesses and environments.

All three are from Queenstown.

There has been no Wanaka mayoral candidate since amalgamation under local body reform in 1989.

Deputy mayor John S. Wilson, of Wanaka, was a mayoral aspirant but recently withdrew his nomination for personal reasons.

Mr Hayes and Ms van Uden were up to date on Wanaka's current concerns, such as new sports facilities, camping ground management, events funding and support, opportunities for economic growth, long term planning, and water quality.

Mr Scott confessed he was unfamiliar with some of Wanaka's issues but was keen to serve the entire district.

It was time to "get rid of that line on the hill".

"We are all uniquely our own, but we should be all workingas one," he said.

When asked by Albert Town resident Bruce Hebbard to choose either a greenfields or camping ground site for new sports facilities, all three said the community should decide.

However, Mr Hayes said if asked for a long term option, he would vote greenfields.

Ms van Uden also supported greenfields, subject to the council's reaching an agreement with the landowner.

Festival of Colour co-ordinator Lindsay Schofield asked how they would support events.

Ms van Uden said although the council should not be running events, it should "sweat the small stuff" and make things easier for event managers.

Mr Hayes said events were economic drivers.

There should be a contestable fund, "although that's not to say there will be a huge bucket of money".

The trio had difficulty narrowing campaign issues to three as requested by forum chairman and ODT editor Murray Kirkness.

Mr Hayes would work on council accountability, controlling costs and developing alternative sources of council income.

Things like visitor industry demands on infrastructure and the district's roading needs also needed to be addressed, he said.

Mr Scott would try to keep rates increases down, improve transportation services and provide more community housing.

The council had to spend carefully and work with the community to prioritise its needs, he said.

Ms van Uden said Queenstown Airport, Wanaka sports facilities and the district events policy were among many "hot potatoes".

"I am not a one-ticket candidate and I will not be a one-ticket mayor... but here are three things I will do. It's very simple. Rationalise, rationalise, rationalise," she said.


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