Ashburton’s newly-established Covid-19 economic recovery advisory group meets soon

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No time is being wasted by Ashburton’s newly-established Covid-19 Economic Recovery Advisory Group, with its first meeting planned next Wednesday.

The group has 11 members, plus Ashburton mayor Neil Brown who will be chairman.
Its aim is to help and support Mid Canterbury’s key business sectors and agencies recover from the pandemic and transition back to full employment.

Ashburton District Council economic development manager Bevan Rickerby said today the group’s first meeting would be on May 13, at 3pm. “We are not hanging around. We are getting on with it.”

Group members named so far include James Urquhart (NZ Ski), Greg Donaldson (contracting), Roger Sutton (EA Networks), Aaron Chudleigh (manufacturing), Bob McDonald (retail), Simon Wareing (transport), Andrea Lee (construction), Nicky Milmine (hospitality), David Clark (farming) and Karl Jackson (iwi representative).
Mr Rickerby said a representative of the agricultural business sector was also expected to join the group.

Independent advice will be provided by the Employers Chamber of Commerce.
Meeting frequency will be as required and reviewed on June 30. It will report to council.

District councillors will receive next week a report on how council could or should play a role in the district’s social and wellbeing recovery.

Safer Mid Canterbury and Safe Communities, which already receive an operational grant from council, and its 27 member groups could be called on to help.

Council chief executive Hamish Riach said there was much debate nationally about the role of local authorities in the social wellbeing of their communities over the next several years, separate to their response to the lockdown and pandemic emergency.

“If the impact of the lockdown has a long tail potentially, how does council want to be involved in supporting the community, if at all.”
He said there were a lot of groups already working in that space.

Cr Stuart Wilson said ratepayers could not be expected to foot the bill for social services. “That is the obligation of the State.”