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She told the council’s corporate services committee meeting possible reasons for the drop of 1860 people included the absence of a regular tourist bus this season; loss of visibility due to a brochure shortfall; and northern neighbour Mosgiel becoming a motorhome-friendly designated town.
Mrs Darling also noted i-Sites around the South generally had fewer visitors in July.
Councillors expressed concern at the sharp drop, and Mrs Darling said she and her staff would continue to monitor the situation closely for any longer-term trend.
The quality of the metal used on unsealed roads around the district was once again brought up by councillors.
Following ratepayer reports of unusually high numbers of punctures caused by sharp gravel on newly graded roads, and additional reports from council staff detailing excessive fine material in some aggregate samples, committee chairman Cr John Cochrane said action needed to be taken to resolve the situation quickly.
Council group manager service delivery Jules Witt said recent plans to stockpile roading aggregate would be put on hold until a source of adequate quality could be found.
Road maintenance also figured prominently.
Although the council had earmarked about $1 million extra for "low-cost low-risk" roading improvements in its 2018-21 budget, the adequacy of the near $1.7 million total was questioned by committee chairman Cr John Cochrane.
He expressed concern at "smaller, but essential" projects being deprioritised under an expanded remit allowing for bigger-budget projects to be included in the programme, co-funded by the NZ Transport Agency.
Councillors agreed to conduct additional workshops to provide input to NZTA on community roading priorities.
- Richard Davison