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Council Support To Get Marlborough Through Covid-19

Mayor John Leggett says this week’s full Council meeting on Thursday will offer a range of measures to help Marlborough get through the Covid-19 crisis in the short and longer term.

“These are challenging times for Marlborough and New Zealand, but there are a range of actions the Council can undertake to help us get through this,” he says.

“The rates increase this year will be as small as possible and less than the Local Government Cost Index level of 2.2%. We will still be able to maintain our levels of service for our core roading and three waters’ infrastructure maintenance and planned improvements.”

“Keeping infrastructure projects going will help keep cash flowing through wages and maintaining jobs in Marlborough, and stimulate the economy generally.”

“As noted by Councillor Mark Peters, if the Council spends what we plan to spend, plus what Port Marlborough and Marlborough Airport have on the drawing board, between now and June 2021, it will match the Government’s $12 billion economic activity package per head of population.”

“Council has a strong balance sheet and low levels of debt. Our prudent financial diligence over many years means we have the capacity to provide emergency support to community organisations providing key facilities or services to our people.”

“That support will be outlined in our Annual Plan at this Thursday’s meeting, discussed and agreed by Councillors, and then go out to public consultation.”

The support proposals, subject to agreement at this Thursday’s meeting, include:

· A fund of up to $1 million to meet shortfalls in core fixed costs being incurred by community facilities providers e.g. Stadium 2000 Aquatic Centre

· An increase of $200,000 for smaller community organisations to add to the existing $300,000 Community Grants budget, with new criteria based on expected shortfalls in core operating revenue.

“These organisations are vital to our recovery and deserve support,” the Mayor said.

Welfare support

The Council’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Welfare team is supporting the regional response to Covid-19. The Welfare team has been working hard over the last week for those in the community who need extra help with emergency accommodation or basic supplies.

Over the last few days the team has helped a number of people to find accommodation and has worked with the Police to relocate non-resident campers to suitable self-contained accommodation and motels. The number of campers in the region has reduced significantly.

Places have also been found for some of our homeless. These efforts are both for their own health protection and also the health of the wider public.

With most public toilets now closed due to a lack of cleaning contractors, the team is looking to install a small number of flushing portaloos with hand washing facilities in key locations along SH1, in Picton and at Liz Davidson Place in Blenheim. These will provide a facility for essential workers such as truckies. The Riverlands Roadhouse truck stop is fully operational.

People who need extra help or advice should call 03 520 7400 or email welfare@marlboroughcdem.co.nz

If you have symptoms that could be related to Covid-19 please call the dedicated Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

Economic development and business support

Council is working alongside the Government’s business support programme across the Top of the South. That support includes:

· Providing wage and leave subsidies, unemployment benefits and other types of financial support including tax relief

· Managing the registration of essential businesses and their compliance

· Providing additional regional business support services via MBIE’s Regional Business Partnership.

Marlborough is helping the Government by signposting businesses to the right place for business support, and also by providing a two-way information between government and the regions. In the Top of the South a number of organisations are working together to ensure businesses receive the right information in a timely manner.

The Nelson Regional Development Agency holds the principal Regional Business Partnership contract with MBIE for the Top of the South, and sub-contracts its delivery in Marlborough to the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce and Business Trust Marlborough. Council has given the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce an additional staff resource to help provide that support to those Marlborough businesses who need it.

The Mayor also chairs the weekly ‘Team Marlborough’ meetings with industry leaders, public health, Stuart Smith MP and other key groups and organisations, which share information to identify gaps and opportunities in the regional response to Covid-19. Council is also working with Smart+Connected groups and other community groups to advise and support them.

Council also funds key partners who have been directly involved in the Covid-19 response:

· Destination Marlborough has provided advice, support and information to the tourism sector

· Business Trust Marlborough is the lead for business mentors in Marlborough and has over 50 mentors. Mentors have been in touch with their mentees to offer support.

The Council is also beginning the process to work on an economic recovery plan in partnership with Marlborough’s key industries.

Council’s essential services

Council is maintaining essential services, such as drinking water, waste management, sewerage and effluent disposal, road maintenance and emergency management. Keeping Port Marlborough and Marlborough Airport operational is also critical.

Council will also continue to provide customer services through our call centre, flood protection and maintenance, environmental monitoring, harbour safety, health compliance, resource and building consents and biosecurity. Support functions such as IT, finance, HR, payroll and communications are also being maintained.

Staff in non-critical areas may be asked to work in a ‘critical’ area if required by either sickness or community need. An example is secondments to the Emergency Management Team to assist with welfare support to the community.

Council service priorities are based on the following criteria:

• Public health

• Emergency response and recovery

• Short term environmental health

• Need for housing development

• Need to keep the economy going

• Statutory responsibilities (which may be relaxed by the Government)

• Support services needed for the above

The Council’s main office in Seymour Street, Blenheim is closed. Cheque or cash payments can be made via the secure drop box at the Council building front doors. Please phone the Council first on 03 520 7400 or email mdc@marlborough.govt.nz if you require assistance.

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