Public input sought on SoRDS plan

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    Ngai Tahu kaumatua Michael Skerrett (left) with members of the Southland Mayoral Forum ,Southland District Mayor Gary Tong, Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks, Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell at the launch of the strategy's action plan at Transport World last year. (Wed, Nov 30) Photo: Petrina Wright

    THE public can now have its say on a proposal to establish a new agency to oversee, drive and implement the Southland Regional Development Strategy (SoRDS) action plan.

    The Southland Mayoral Forum has agreed to a proposal to form a council-controlled organisation (CCO) called the Southland Regional Development Agency (SRDA) to lead regional and economic development in the region. The proposal went out for public consultation this week.

    “Now it is up to business interests and the public to take a good look at what we are proposing and to let us know what they think,” Southland Mayoral Forum chairman and Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said.

    It is proposed the SRDA would incorporate Venture Southland (VS), including its staff, management and regional and economic development activities.

    Mr Hicks said there would be no job losses as a result, but some staff might choose not to stay on.

    Southland’s four local councils would hold 75% of the shares in SRDA, with Ngai Tahu, the Invercargill and Mataura Licensing Trusts, Southland Chamber of Commerce, Community Trust of Southland and Southern Institute of Technology holding the remaining 25%.

    In the proposal, funding for the SRDA would initially be available from annual contributions from the shareholders and from central government in the form of grants and seed funding.

    The potential contribution from shareholders in 2018/19 was estimated at $3.8 million, increasing to $4.35m by 2020/21.

    Mr Hicks said the mayoral forum had considered other options to achieve SoRDS’s overarching goal to increase the region’s population by 10,000 by 2025, but decided on a CCO structure because it enabled the wider business and community stakeholders to be involved.

    “It is an opportunity to lift VS up to a new level by involving new stakeholders.

    “VS has been working with [many of the stakeholders] in the past and doing a fantastic job, but having the [stakeholders’] financial commitment gives it a little more clout.”

    Mr Hicks said he hoped there would be general support for the proposal.

    “I understand there may be ideas not included in the plan and we need to address those as we come to them.”

    For more information and to access the consultation document, go to www.es.govt.nz/SRDA.

    The SRDA proposal/consultation document is available from Southland council offices and websites: www.goredc.govt.nz, www.icc.govt.nz, www.southlanddc.govt.nz, www.es.govt.nz.

    Submissions can be received in a variety of ways:

    • Online at es.govt.nz/SRDA
    • Email to service@es.govt.nz
    • Post to SRDA Proposal, Environment Southland, Private Bag 90116, Invercargill 9840
    • Deliver to any council office (or clearly marked sub-office) in the region: Environment Southland, Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council, Southland District Council
    • Fax to 03 211 5252

    Call 0800 76 88 45 for further information.

    Submissions close on Monday, October 2, at 4pm and hearings will follow.

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