Newest councillor speaks up for Bluff

Marcus Lush is looking forward to joining the Invercargill City Council. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO
Invercargill's newest city councillor has let his colleagues know what he thinks of their attitude towards his home town.

During a performance, policy and partnership committee meeting yesterday, Cr Marcus Lush said councillors could do more to make Bluff a vital and exciting community.

A Bluff resident, Cr Lush was commenting on the Bluff tourism master plan, which provided concepts for the future development of New Zealand’s southernmost town.

The plan described Bluff as having potential to be a vibrant tourism hub for the region.

The council needed to acknowledge Bluff was not a suburb of Invercargill and it had previously shown "almost a paternalistic" attitude towards the town, he said.

The town had managed to prosper despite very little engagement from Invercargill, he said.

The focus on tourism could be misleading and the real target should be on the community itself.

"I wonder if Invercargill’s solution towards Bluff, to make it a tourism destination, doesn’t in fact absolve them from some of the responsibilities to make Bluff a functioning and exciting and vital town."

Cr Lush said he noticed people buying houses in the town to transform into Airbnbs, as soon people started to talk about tourism and this created a lack of rentals for residents and workers.

He also said some of the town’s facilities, like the service centre and the library, were extremely run down.

All the successful ventures, such as the town’s marae and the oyster festival, were community projects, he said.

"It seems the council does nothing for Bluff, to make Bluff seem to be a great community."

Chairman Darren Ludlow said the plan was specifically about tourism, but Cr Lush had some good insights and things that council could "pick up on".

Cr Graham Lewis highlighted council funding for projects in the town, including an information kiosk and about $300,000 of funding for the pool.

Cr Lesley Soper said the council was working with the Bluff Community Board and it had community interests in mind.

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