Featherston pensioner Leslye Thompson with her cat Tane. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

SUE TEODORO
sue.teodoro@age.co.nz

A Featherston pensioner struggling to make ends meet after South Wairarapa District Council’s [SWDC] rates hikes wants to thank her anonymous benefactor for their generous gift. She also wants to attend upcoming SWDC rates meetings to put questions to the council in person.

After the news about how SWDC ratepayer Leslye Thompson could not afford plants for her garden due to large rate rises, a generous donor dropped a letter and $250 into Times-Age office to help pay for her plants.

Thompson was overwhelmed by the gift and letter and said she would have liked to thank the person and give them some plants from her garden.

“I want to give her some of those; they’re gorgeous in the shade out there,” she said, pointing to some blooms.

“It’s sad that I can’t say thank you. At this moment, I just want to have them here and say, ‘do you want some seeds,’” she said.

Thompson said she would save the cash and use it later to buy things for the garden.

“I just want to say thank you very much. I feel embarrassed. I was speaking out for all pensioners, not just for myself. It was for everyone,” she said.

She remained firm in her views the rates hikes were unaffordable for many, including pensioners.

The planned SWDC meetings had limited numbers due to covid and required online pre-registration. The Featherston meeting was limited to 100 people. Thompson would like to go to the Featherston meeting but was unsure how to arrange it.

“I want to go to it. I’d have to get someone to take me because I don’t drive or anything like that.”

She said many pensioners would not have access to computers.

“I can get on to the internet, but there are lots of people who don’t use it or who can’t use it. It’s a retirement place; a lot of people have retired here.”

She had questions she would like to put to SWDC.

“The rates here are astronomical. They’re huge, and for what?” she said.

“What do they actually spend our rates on? I’d like to know from the council where do the rates go, where are they spending it, what are they spending it on?”

Thompson said facilities for pensioners and others in Featherston were lacking. She said spending on roading was expected, but wanted to know about other expenditure.

“Featherston is missing some things,” she said, referring to community programmes for the elderly and others.

“We either don’t see it, or it’s not happening.”

She thought communication channels needed to be tailored to people who did not have computers, so everyone was well informed.

SWDC has organised public meetings in November in Greytown, Featherston, and Martinborough to address ratepayers questions about the 29 per cent rates hike. More information, including how to register, was available on its website.



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