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by Rachael Comer

Timaru mayoral candidates Damon Odey and Phil Smith have gone head to head in a public debate.
The pair took part in a public forum on Saturday outside Coffee Culture at the corner of Stafford and Canon Streets in front of about 25 people.
The pair talked about local issues and took questions from the public, while traffic whizzed past and pedestrians stopped to look in on the meeting.
Mr Smith challenged incumbent mayor Mr Odey to an open debate, saying the council failed to engage with residents sufficiently.
The debate touched on the empty shops in Stafford St, shopping habits and youth in the district.
How long it took for action to be taken on things such as footpath repairs was also discussed.
The pair also focused on the promotion of tourism, a topic of interest to residents of towns in the Timaru district spoken to by The Courier.
Geraldine business owner John Rule said promoting tourism was the main issue for residents, a GPS system often used by tourists meaning they bypassed the town.
“The traffic goes down Coach Rd and bypasses us,” he said.
“The Government is all about tourism, so the tourists need to be pushed through the town. The way they are being directed is not through any major shopping destinations between here and Ashburton,” he said.
Tourists provided an important economic boost, he said.
He praised the town’s “active” community board, which had led to rubbish bins being placed in prominent places throughout the town.
“The town always looks clean and tidy, which is important for people here and people visiting.”
In Temuka, business owner Laurie Sullivan said the community board had also done a good job.
“I think they’re ticking all the right boxes.”
Voting in the local body elections closes at noon on Saturday, October 8.