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Nelson MP Nick Smith has called upon the Nelson and Tasman Councils and other public agencies like DOC to drop any proposed increase in charges like rates.

“I’m calling on our Nelson and Tasman councils to abandon their proposed rate increases. They need to recognise that households and businesses are in no position to incur additional costs.” Dr Smith said.

“I am pleased government has introduced a policy of freezing rents, something I and National pushed for in response to some landlords wanting increases. This proposed rates freeze is about our two councils doing their bit to absorb some of the huge economic pressure arising from the Covid-19 crisis” says Dr Smith.

Nelson City Council is proposing to increase rates by 3.7% on the July 1 with submissions closing on April 17. The Tasman District Council is proposing a 2.97% increase with submissions also closing on 17 April.

“It is also unrealistic to expect people to focus on making submissions or public hearings on the two Council’s Annual Plans over the next month or more while the country is in shutdown. We need to be focused on stopping the spread of the virus, supporting our health services and caring for each other at this time.

“I am also calling on DOC to abandon the doubling of concession charges in the Abel Tasman National Park on May 1 that will push up costs to tourism operators by $400,000 per year. This increase was consulted on in a period when the tourism industry was booming but now everything has changed. Tourism business have seen their incomes collapse and when the health crisis is over they will need to rebuild their businesses. We will just make their recovery harder by proceeding with this significant increase in charges. I am also calling on the Kaiteriteri Reserve Domain Board to also defer the proposed increase in their charges for tourism operators operating from Kaiteriteri Beach.

“The Councils and government will face pressure from deferring these increases but it is small compared with the level of financial pain that households and businesses will be facing. This is a time for council and government departments to be doing everything possible to help people get through this crisis” Dr Smith concluded.

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