Invitation from Local Government magazine : To share your ideas on infrastructure funding

Ben Ross - Talking Auckland:

For those inclined out there, ideas are being sought after with infrastructure development and management

Originally posted on Contrafed update:

At Local Government Magazine we want to get a sense of the range of ideas out there. We’re interested in everything from minor incremental improvements through to the outright wacky paradigm-changing stuff. Then we’ll sift through it and write a piece for you to enjoy. One approach: start from first principles. Imagine you’ve just arrived in a new land with no government and no civil infrastructure. You have to build the ideal model for local and central government infrastructure development and management. You might consider who the communities of interest really are and the interdependencies between regions and the nation from a social and NZ Inc economic viewpoint. Imagine what New Zealand could be if we got all that lined up. All contributions will remain anonymous unless you indicate otherwise. A good starting place might be to consider the community and economic benefits released from a well-integrated and mutually-supportive local…

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Policy on Legal High Sale Areas Adopted

Council Resolves Policy around Legal Highs

From Auckland Council:

Auckland’s legal high sale areas agreed

Areas where the sale of psychoactive substances, otherwise known as legal highs, will be allowed in Auckland have been agreed by Auckland Council today.

The council’s Regional Strategy and Policy Committee approved the proposed Local Approved Product Policy (LAPP), which will prevent the sale of products near vulnerable communities, schools, or treatment centres for mental health issues or substance abuse.

Retail licenses to sell government approved products will be guided by the policy which was developed with stakeholders and a public consultation and hearings process. Licenses will be issued by the psychoactive substances regulatory authority, not Auckland Council.

Councillor Linda Cooper, Chair of the LAPP Hearings panel, says that the policy had to find a balance between respecting the legal right for shops to sell the products and the need to protect the most vulnerable in the community.

“From our work in consultation with Aucklanders, we quickly found that many people wanted the products banned outright,” she says.

“However as it is the Government licensing the products, we could only act within the legal parameters that were set, which meant controlling the areas where the products could be sold.

“So we have tried to find a balance between the legal rights of retailers to sell the products while keeping the most vulnerable away from easy access to them.

“I am pleased with the policy and with the committee’s decision to adopt it, and hope it will go some way to protecting those in our community who need it most.”

It is expected that the government will begin licensing the products again later this year, while the policy will be reviewed by the council in two years.

Further Information

The policy specifies:

Auckland general – except for the city centre


  1. For all areas of Auckland, apart from the city centre, licences to retail legal psychoactive substances will not be granted in:
  • areas of high deprivation – deprivation 10, 9 and 8
  • neighbourhood centers
  • within 500m of a school teaching students year seven and above
  • within 200m of a school teaching students between years one and six inclusive
  • within 500m of a mental health or addiction treatment center
  • within 500m of an existing psychoactive substances retail licence
  •  within 100m of an marae
  1. For all areas of Auckland, apart from the city centre, licences to retail legal psychoactive substances will not be granted in the following special restricted areas: (areas identified as special restricted areas are shown in Appendix One)
  • Hunters corner commercial area – Papatoetoe
  • Manurewa commercial Area – Manurewa
  • Mt Wellington Highway / Waipuna road commercial area – Mt Wellington
  • Papakura Caravan Park commercial area – Papakura
  • Don Buck road / Triangle road commercial area – Henderson
  • Manukau Station road commercial area – Manukau
  • Te Hana commercial area – Rodney

Auckland city centre restrictions

  • For the city centre it is proposed that licences to retail legal psychoactive substances will not be granted in:
  1. areas of residential deprivation
  2. within 200m of an existing psychoactive substances retail licence.


Electric Train at Britomart

Roll Out of Electric Trains to be sped up

After disasters on the network, AT is speeding up the roll out

After a disaster of a March for the rail network (see: RAIL FAILURES CONTINUE – THIS TIME WITH THE NEW ELECTRICS. FULL INVESTIGATION REQUIRED!) Auckland Transport is speeding up the roll out of the electric trains to replace the diesels.

From the NZ Herald:

Auckland Transport wants to fast track electric trains

By Mathew Dearnaley

Auckland Transport is trying to accelerate its rollout of electric trains, after continuing disruptions from diesel breakdowns.

Although August remains the official target for completing the rollout by extending electric trains to the western line, the organisation’s board was told yesterday of efforts to bring the date forward.

Public transport group manager Mark Lambert said that would allow an earlier retirement of much of the increasingly troublesome diesel fleet, although 10 multiple-unit ADL trains would be kept and eventually refurbished for shuttle duties between Pukekohe and Papakura.


“When it happens it has a bigger impact because of higher frequency,” he said.

A broken-down diesel train blocking the tracks at Papakura on Thursday had a significant flow-on effect through the rest of the city’s rail network.

His staff were working with passenger train operator Transdev on how to improve recovery times from such events, he told the board.

Last week’s disruption was compounded when a second diesel train, sent to clear the first unit off the line, also broke down.

According to an internal Auckland Transport report, that caused the full or part cancellation of 32 services and delays to 64 others.

Although rail electrification will extend only as far south as Papakura, Mr Lambert said diesel shuttles would run between there and Pukekohe every 20 minutes.


Full article:

As my blog post link above shows we have been having issues with the Electrics – especially the 6 car sets as well. So the problem is split across the diesels and electrics; for which it should NOT be happening with the Electrics a year after the first Electric began revenue service on the Onehunga Line.

As for working with Transdev to improve recovery systems? Well that took long enough seeming the contingency systems folder has been there since 2011 (and hopefully updated with the Electrics on-stream).

Here is hoping in any future disruptions the recovery systems are better than what they have been the last wee while.

Berths along water front including length

My Interview on Port of Auckland

What are your thoughts?


While action is being taken in regards to the Port Future Study II (see: COMMITTEE RESOLVES TO START FUTURE PORT PART II STUDY ) prior to that I gave my thoughts on the Port situation

You can see the interview (starts around 16 minutes in):



I recommend watching the entire show though to get the context of the Port debate from multiple angles.


Note: the interview was done last week before the Committee resolved its actions yesterday.

All previous Port of Auckland commentary over the years can be seen here:


March ’15 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking

Ben Ross - Talking Auckland:

Again a good month for Talking Auckland with new records set in Monthly readership.

My thanks to readers and commenters both old and new.

Without you Talking Auckland simply does not happen.

April looks to be a relatively quiet month with the Port issue being dealt with in the Auckland Development Committee today.

My Unitary Plan mediation and Hearings start in May so I will be busy going through the Council marked version of the the Transport topic in a couple of weeks.

Also I see Auckland Transport is finally getting its backside into gear over the successive weeks of train failures ( )

But again my thanks to you and as always you got a burning topic you like to write on or maybe I write on let me know :-D .

Originally posted on Open Parachute:

BlogThere are now over 300 blogs on the list, although I am weeding out those which are no longer active or have removed public access to sitemeters. (Let me know if I weed out yours by mistake, or get your stats wrong).

Every month I get queries from people wanting their own blog included. I encourage and am happy to respond to queries but have prepared a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) people can check out. Have a look at NZ Blog Rankings FAQ. This is particularly helpful to those wondering how to set up sitemeters.

Please note, the system is automatic and relies on blogs having sitemeters which allow public access to the stats.

Here are the rankings of New Zealand blogs with publicly available statistics for March 2015. Ranking is by visit numbers. I have listed the blogs in the table below, together with monthly visits and page view numbers.

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Berths along water front including length

Committee Resolves to Start Future Port Part II Study

Also asks ACIL to “Encourage” Port not to start wharf extensions


From Auckland Council:

Auckland Council brings forward Ports study

Auckland Council’s Auckland Development Committee today unanimously voted to bring forward its Ports of Auckland Study.

The study was to take place after the Unitary Plan became operational in the middle of next year, however the committee wanted to begin the study as soon as possible given the high level of interest in port activities.

As a result of today’s meeting, work will immediately being on designing the Port Future Study including its terms of reference and scope. These will be reported back to the council within a month.

The study itself will begin as soon as possible after that, will involve a wide range of community stakeholders and will be complete within a year.

“The people of Auckland have made it very clear they want to be involved in any discussion about the future of our port and bringing the study forward is the sensible thing to do,” said committee chair Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.

“We must immediately set to work on the study’s terms of reference which need to be innovative and inclusive so we can hear all of the different voices.”

Ms Hulse and Mayor Len Brown expressed their concern that Ports of Auckland had not always fully engaged with Aucklanders and their desire for a culture change within the company.

The committee also discussed a letter from Auckland Council Chief Executive Stephen Town to Auckland Council Investments Limited outlining the council’s expectations of its board in relation to the Ports of Auckland.


The Letter sent to ACIL over the Port of Auckland and its Wharf Extensions




From debate in the Auckland Development Committee this morning and afternoon the scoping aspect of what the study will cover could include:

  • Full community consultation or even empowerment if Council is to honour its Community Empowerment regime that has just started
  • Economic affects of Port operations to both Auckland but especially South Auckland where the industrial complexes that work with the port are often housed
  • Involving Central Government; this is because as Councillor George Wood indicated the study would then cover as a full comprehensive study:
    • Economics of the third Main on both the Southern and Eastern Lines to allow freight train movements and freeing capacity for passenger trains
    • The effects of the Metro Port in Southdown owned by Port of Tauranga
    • Effects of Wiri Inland Port owned by Ports of Auckland


The scoping report on what the Study will cover should be back before the Committee next month. From there the study gets under-way to the framework approved. The question is how far and how engaging will the scope go?

I have noted blog posts from here covering the Port issue have been used as springboards to flesh ideas out on how wide the Future Port Study II should go today (always the Geographer getting their ideas pick from :-P ). So again let’s see how wide this study will go.


If Travelling on the North Western Motorway This Easter

Major works on the Northwestern Motorway
Thurs 2 April to Tues 7 April 2015 (Easter weekend)

Just in case your are staying in Auckland this weekend and were thinking about travelling to St Lukes or into the city here is some information about road closures and restrictions.

1. St Lukes Rd bridge closed from 8pm Thurs 2 Apr to 5am Tues 7 Apr

The St Lukes Road bridge will be closed to vehicles to safely build up the existing road levels and construct the approaches to the new, higher bridge. Pedestrian access across the bridge, the cycleway, motorway, local roads and public transport links in the area will remain open throughout the weekend.

Attractions such as MOTAT and Auckland Zoo will be unaffected and are open as usual with their planned events during the Easter weekend please see and for more information. Regular parking will be available.

2. Te Atatu interchange lane restrictions from 10pm Thurs 2 Apr to 5am Tues 7 Apr

In the Te Atatu area there will be a number of lane restrictions during the weekend. Both of the citybound onramps will be closed and the citybound motorway will be reduced to one lane during the day (5am to 10pm) and closed each night (10pm to 5am).

These closures are necessary to lower the Te Atatu citybound motorway on-ramp and raise a portion of the motorway, near the bridge.

Once open on Tuesday 7 April, the two left hand motorway lanes underneath Te Atatu Road overbridge will be moved slightly to the north with the third lane remaining in the same location. This will tie in with the recent citybound lane changes between Te Atatu and Rosebank Roads.

Detour routes and more information

The Northwestern cycleway will remain open throughout the weekend. More information about the closures and the detour routes are available on our website

A thanks to Councillor Linda Cooper for originally sticking the above up on her Facebook page.

Mayor, Patrick, Stephen and Antonia
Source: Auckland Council

BREAKING NEWS: Len Brown Resigns

Mayor Gives Surprise Announcement at Hearings Committee This Morning

In surprising news at the Hearings Committee this morning Mayor Len Brown requested from the Committee Chair to give a short speech. The Chair granted the request in which then Len Brown announced to an empty gallery that effective immediately he resigns as Mayor of Auckland giving the Chains over to his Deputy – Penny Hulse.

Mr Brown said it was time for him to move on after five years of bringing the City together through the amalgamation. He continued that it was time for a fresh start and that his trusted Deputy of five years Ms Hulse would safely guide the City through through to the elections next year.

The Committee while stunned (just as all the iPredict punters were) managed to after 15 minutes of debate and SEVEN Dick Quax Point of Orders to pass a resolution thanking Len for his services before Cameron Brewer offered three rounds of Hip Hip Hooray.

And if you have not realised today was April 1 then gotcha ;-)

End to End of the two outer wharves forming a super imposed limit

The Bledsole extensions sit in side that limit

Auckland Development Committee to set Port Part II Study Into Motion

However, will the engagement with stakeholders and the community be that – engagement?


Tomorrow the Auckland Development Committee chaired by Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse will set in motion the Port Future Study Part Two that was not meant to start until next year.

The Addendum Agenda for that Committee spells out what will be looked at in both setting up the study as well as engagement with the City:

Future of Ports of Auckland Study

File No.: CP2015/05041


  1. To approve the bringing forward of the expected timing of what has been referred to as the “Ports Stage II Study”.
  2. The report also outlines the broad objectives of the study.

Executive Summary

  1. Given renewed interest and concerns about the effects of port expansion on the Waitemata Harbour, the Auckland Development Committee is requested to bring forward the commencement of the Port Stage II Study from its current timeframe post the Unitary Plan.
  2. The Committee is requested to direct the Chief Executive to initially focus on the study design and draft study scope, to be approved by the Committee before the actual study commences.
  3. For the purpose of this report, “study design” relates to processes for stakeholder involvement, engagement and governance structures and their terms of reference, resourcing, timing etc. The term “scope” refers specifically to the study – which will be technical in nature and undertaken by experts – and what is to be included in the study.
Recommendation/sThat the Auckland Development Committee:

a)      pursuant to standing order 3.10.17, revoke resolution APC/2013/45:

h)      agree that early scoping work on a study of the economic, environmental and cultural impacts and opportunities for Maori be reported back to the Auckland Plan Committee in August 2013, and if required, any future Stage 2 work relating to wider issues of port location and distribution in the Upper North Island is to be undertaken at a later time, post the Unitary Plan. 

and replace it with:

h)      commence the Port Stage II Study, with the broad objective of scoping the economic, environmental and cultural impacts, of the port and its associated freight movements through Auckland, the opportunities for Maori, the wider issue of port location and freight distribution in the Upper North Island, the relationship between the port and Auckland’s urban form and the benefits and costs, including opportunity costs, of options considered.

b)      direct the Chief Executive to commence the design of the study and its associated processes.

c)      note that the study should include collaborative stakeholder input at each critical stage, including the study’s scope, and that the council will make decisions on any matters arising from the study.

d)      request that the study design, including resourcing requirements and a draft study scope be reported back to the Committee for its approval as soon as possible, prior to the actual study commencing.


So all looking solid right? Well check this in the ‘Comments’ department further down:

16) Because stakeholders should be involved in all critical stages of the study, this report deliberately does not set out any detail, as the process itself and the scope of the study need to be developed in collaboration with others.  In this sense, the study design is expected to have similarities to the approach used by the Consensus Building Group on alternative funding for transport. It should be noted that, at the completion of the study, it will be the council that makes decision on any matters arising from the study.


And this is where the supposed Community Empowerment that Council is meant to be embracing more falls over. The Consensus Building Group was nothing but the Mayor’s hobby horse for Len to get through his most two preferred options via the Long Term Plan (fuel taxes, rates, or tolls) rather than canvassing all options and say putting five forward to the City – as genuine choice. So in effect the CBG was tokenism at its best.


If the Council is true to its word about Community Empowerment and with the Port of Auckland causing community emotions to run high I would not even go anywhere near the “approaches” used by that flawed Consensus Building Group. All options must be considered, all options must be spelled out in costs and benefits (monetary, economic, social, physical environmental).


I will not be at the Committee tomorrow but I will keep tabs via the live stream and report anything of significance that comes out of it.


Electric Train at Britomart

Rail Failures Continue – This Time With the New Electrics. Full Investigation Required!

Eastern Line Plunged in Chaos


First of all I understand new equipment can run into teething issues both in tests and when in full operations for the first time. But the same teething issues one year after the first electric train started plying the Onehunga Line?


This morning the continued failures on the Auckland Rail Network continued with an Electric 6 car set on the Eastern Line. The EMU-car sets carry 750 passengers so more than the big diesel SA6-car sets by 100 and thus work well on the Eastern Line in the peak-of-peaks between 7am-8:30am.

The fault which disabled the EMU-6-car set at Middlemore (to heading to Britomart) was again a door fault, something that has been plaguing the 6-car sets for a while now (and causing a lot of cancellations as a result). From what I heard it took 30 minutes to move the disabled unit out-of-the-way (so in effect it was blocking the Southern Line as well although I have heard no majors come from that line so far) and get the Eastern Line running again.

Problem? 30 minute delay and the rest of your Eastern Line services covered by the EMU 3 car sets (375 capacity) and we start getting crush issues:


While a 6 car set is just starting to come through now to mop up the stranded passengers for over an hour Meadowbank and Oraeki Stations were simply skipped as overloaded trains from Glen Innes went “express” to Britomart (under speed restrictions as well). So for a friend of mine caught in the drama what was meant to be a 40 minute journey turned into about two hours. What a way to start your day?


So Auckland Transport we have yet another situation. Why was the following not done?

  1. No EMU 6 car sets running in revenue service until that door fault is cleared. It is causing too many cancellations as is and you should be penalising CAF (the train builder) everything this fault happens until it is fixed
  2. Were announcements made regularly in clear plain simple English illustrating the situation (from what I have heard from passengers the answer was ‘that was not happening’)
  3. Why do you not use Twitter and Facebook like NZTA does to alert people to the issues
  4. Why were people especially at Glen Innes not directed to the City bound buses
  5. Why was a diesel (even if having to bring the old ADK DMU units back on-line and recertified) not sent around the Eastern Line to do a mop up operation in the interim


These continued failures I will blog daily as they occur until Auckland Transport and Auckland Council begin a full independent investigation into all issues plaguing the rail network. Will patronage growth as is we do not need set backs due to failures.

I am aware the Board of Auckland Transport has been notified of the issues so I hope the Chair Dr Levy starts a full investigation at today’s Board Meeting!



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