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Rates on children's toys, toilet cleanliness, the gardens questioned at city meeting

Proposed rates changes for forestry are “garbage”, the Botanical Gardens are not a pleasure to walk through any more and the “WTF” campaign is inappropriate for children.

These were some of the complaints raised at last night’s city meeting for the Gisborne District Council‘s long-term plan.

Held at the council chambers, and led by deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz, there were about 10 members of the public there to voice their concerns.

Eastland Wood Council chairman Iain McInnes brought up the proposed rates changes — in particular the figure for forestry, which said the average increase was 29 percent.

“It is actually garbage.”

“I wouldn’t go that far Ian,” said Mrs Stoltz.

Mr McInnes said the real figure was 16.9 percent for forestry.

Resident Ani Bingham brought up the Botanical Gardens and poor cleaning of Gisborne’s public toilets.

Mrs Bingham said she had been to public toilets out of town that smelled nice and were clean. The public toilets in Gisborne were sprayed down with hoses — this left the floor wet.

“We’re not like men — our clothing gets wet.”

She asked if the council could use disinfectant to help the toilets smell nicer, not just hose them out, and leave them dry and ready for use.

“It would make a big difference for me and a lot of people.”

Mrs Bingham was also concerned about the state of the Botanical Gardens.

The ponds were “appalling”, and the quality of care for the whole gardens had been noticeably poor over the past two years, she said.

“It’s a funding issue. Can more funding please be put towards the Botanical Gardens to take it back to its former glory?”

Mrs Bingham said it was no longer a pleasure to walk through. There were weeds showing, the rotation of planting was not seasonal any more, there was privet in the hedges and some roses were dead.

People who were doing the pruning of the trees were also not doing a good job and it was noticeable, she said.

People were also ignoring the “no dogs unless on a leash” sign and she often saw children scared as big dogs ran past.

“Children should not have to feel like that in the Botanical Gardens,” she said.

Mrs Bingham said the gardens were in good condition when former caretaker Doug Stark worked 40 hours a week and kept them maintained.

She often pulled weeds herself by the edge of the ponds.

Gisborne resident Barbara Barwick brought a child’s toy, a fidget spinner, to the meeting.

It had been handed out to children by the council and had ‘‘WTF’’ on it. She knew what it meant —plus the colloquial meaning as well — and she thought it was inappropriate to be given to children.

Mrs Barwick was also unhappy that rates were spent on children’s toys.

GDC’s WTF campaign stands for “What’s The Future” — a play on an acronym which more commonly means “What The F*&%”.

Another council employee said they would not apologise for the use of the acronym — it was used to engage younger members of the community, who might not be ratepayers now but would be in the future.

The campaign had increased community engagement by 700 percent, she said.

Mrs Barwick also asked if a children’s play area could be reinstated at the Grant Road Reserve.

The play area was removed about 10 years ago and never replaced.

City’s pavements are ‘filthy’Former district councillor Margaret Thorpe brought up the cleanliness of the city centre.

Visitors from out of town often told her how “filthy” the Gisborne pavements were in the city centre.

Mrs Thorpe said if Gisborne wanted visitors, tourists and people off the cruise ships to come to Gisborne, then the city had to be clean.

“And it’s not.”

There have been 20,520 requests for service from residents in 2017 — almost a quarter of those (4621) for animal control.

Gisborne residents have until April 20 to put submissions to the council for anything they would like changed in the 10-year plan.