Month: May 2012

Renovations for Auckland Local Government Group

Big changes for Auckland local government stalwart | Scoop News.

 

Last night the oldest local political group, Citizens and Ratepayers held their AGM. At the end of it, what was C&R became Auckland Communities and Residents.

The press release from Auckland Communities and Residents (ACR) as follows:

 

Big changes for Auckland local government stalwart

Thursday, 31 May 2012, 10:35 am
Press Release: Auckland Communities and Residents

Media release

Thursday 31 May 2012

 Big changes for Auckland local government stalwart

Auckland’s oldest political association is changing its name in a wide-spread organisational change. Citizens & Ratepayers, the largest political group in Auckland local government, has become Auckland Communities and Residents. President Mark Brickell and Leader Chris Fletcher made the announcement following the group’s Annual General Meeting.

Mr Brickell said the organisation had broadened its policy focus, established new branches across the region and was formally adopting a policy of actively working with like-minded interests. “This follows a 12 month review begun shortly after the 2010 local body elections. Despite standing many strong candidates and running a very visible campaign, we did not win as many Governing Body, Local and District Health Board seats as expected.” “These changes will position Communities and Residents as a more effective regional organisation ahead of future elections.”

Communities and Residents Leader Councillor Chris Fletcher said the name change recognises that greater Auckland is made up of many different communities with residents at its heart. “The new organisation stands for strong communities, and will speak up for what is important locally – at times taking on ‘city hall’ to protect this. It will also stand for the interests of residents – those who live and work in Auckland, and expect their local government to be a responsible and prudent governor of the rates they provide.”

Mrs Fletcher said a key policy change has been to endorse a much stronger focus on Auckland’s regions. This includes supporting the Southern Initiative, but opposing the excessive spending on the CBD. It includes supporting land purchases for the City Rail Link, but not approving a construction timetable until full funding is confirmed and wanting greater focus on electrification of rail to Pukekohe

“Communities and Residents will concentrate on affordable policies across Auckland and in limiting rate increases. However new policies will build stronger communities throughout our region and more effectively advance protection of Auckland’s environment, and natural and built heritage.” “Disappointingly, the just-released Auckland Plan has not been driven by communities and residents. Instead, ‘city hall’ has led a top-down, hand-out approach. As a result our key community voices, the Local Boards, are at risk of being marginalised. A Communities and Residents Governing Body majority would transfer greater funding to Local Board budgets.”

Mr Brickell said a further change was the organisation’s move to formally abandon the “whipping” system, previously used to compel all elected representatives to vote the same way. Mrs Fletcher said Aucklanders have said they don’t want “party machine” politics in local government. This change endorses the approach the elected representatives had been implementing. “This will allow both Communities and Residents and like-minded representatives to work together on issues in common, but to give people the flexibility to take a different view on policies of particular concern to their community and residents.

Mr Brickell said he expected these changes would see the organisation endorsing candidates in some wards, rather than automatically standing against them, although specific decisions had yet to be made. He said. Communities and Residents would start to select and endorse candidates in key locations before the end of the year.

“Communities and Residents is determined to build constructive working relationships with those who share our outlook. We will develop and advance policies that build stronger communities and protect our residents’ interests.

Mrs Fletcher said the organisation is positive about Auckland’s prospects, but believes a key challenge under the recently adopted Long Term Plan budget is to avoid the most livable city becoming most unaffordable.

Ends

 

It is good to see the oldest political association under go change to reflect the times in Auckland. However I reserve my final judgement on ACR until after the 2013 local elections where Auckland votes in its second Auckland Council (including Mayor (incumbent or not). So ACR (yay another acronym) have from now until technically early 2014 to impress Auckland voters to vote for them.

Will we see whole-scale change with ACR or a case of Leopard changing its spots?

Mind you I think their PR machine might need to hit the floor running as I spotted this parody.

A piece from the Press Release:

“A Communities and Residents Governing Body majority…”

They (Auckland Communities and Residents) refer to themselves as Communities and Residents as short form in texts. Now Auckland Communities and Residents I have given the name ACR – fine with me; but Communities and Residents if I gave that an acronym becomes C&R. Hmm not sure whether that was intended but if the C&R term sticks with the Communities and Residents name rather than ACR which gives a more clean break; “guilty by association” comes automatically to mind. Now if I have drawn a connection there through perception, then it won’t take much for others to do so. Oops?

Never mind the C&R term still applies, just checked their webpage but still…

So I raise an eyebrow and keep and eye on C&R (was hoping to write ACR) through to the elections and just after it.

Your move next C&R?

 

Auckland – do we want to become the next Kaipara

Govt goes to aid of debt-laden Kaipara council | NATIONAL News.

 

OH MY!

That is my reaction to the shit-of-a-situation that Kiapara has landed itself in with their wastewater plant laying waste to the Kaipara Council’s books.

What happened in Kaipara with Central Government now going to aid them should sound as an ominous warning to Auckland Council.

With Auckland‘s Long Term Plan to be adopted next month by the Governing Body, I hope they are paying constant attention to the books. Otherwise you might just find a Central Government Minder sitting next to the Mayor at Council and Committee meetings. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?

So just be careful Auckland, we do not want to end up in the same state as our northern neighbours

Auckland Plan Launched and Away

Auckland Plan is GO – and even has a website (that is readable)

 

I was meant to report on this yesterday but was dealing with a rather crappy written article from the NZ Herald on the Manukau Station, as well as the National Party and the CRL. Auckland Transport Blog has already reported on this – however I am adding my 2-cents as I did a very extensive submission (and was my first ever) to The Auckland Plan.

So yesterday the Mayor – our resident Prude launched The Auckland Plan after extensive submissions and deliberations on it. VOAKL has already written commentary on The Auckland Plan and how I gave it a “C-” grade (barely passable). But now that the Plan is live it is time to work with what we have from it – or simply burn it and do a full rewrite 2013 after the Local Elections.

Now Auckland Council has done one intelligent thing and created with this website for The Auckland Plan. I have had a cruise through it and am quite impressed actually with this website that gives the digital version of a Plan that is over 200 pages long 😛 (think of paper and ink folks printing that out). Each section or chapter of digital version of the Auckland Plan is listed for clicking, reading and even printing – although can not download as a PDF file which I usually do for such things.

So yeah – worth checking out at least.

Below is my original submission to The Auckland Plan, with the main focus on Urban Auckland and Transport (there was some focus on other parts).

VOAKL will maintain commentary on The Auckland Plan, especially as the action plan which “funds” the activities of The Auckland Plan (so the Long Term Plan 2012-2022) is adopted soon by the Governing Body, and The Unitary Plan (basically a Plan on Planning Rules guiding building and development) is drafted, debated and adopted next year. With The Auckland Plan still a “C-” grade document, I will be continuing to seek improvement of The Auckland Plan to get close to as an “A” grade as possible.

My Original Submission to The Auckland Plan

Someone Has a Moment with the Manukau Line

$81 million rail line yet to catch on with commuters – National – NZ Herald News.

 

The idea when commenting in the NZ Herald is to make sure a Blogger who pays attention to a particular interest (in this case transport) is NOT paying attention or has NOT written on that particular issue recently. However three Auckland Councillors decided to take a trip down to the Manukau Station and have a look at morning passenger numbers. That is fine and somewhat expectant of Councillors – although having a comment in the Herald might raise an eyebrow as it did with me. This would be in particular as I had commented on Manukau just recently in two different VOAKL posts. So lets take a look at the moment shall we?

From The Herald

Manukau commuters appeared to suffer a severe outbreak of Mondayitis yesterday – shunning their new $81 million railway line en masse.

Three Auckland Council members who turned up at Manukau’s trenched railway station at 6am to check reports of poor patronage say they counted just 30 people catching trains over the next two hours.

Transport committee member George Wood, who was helped by southern councillors Dick Quax and Calum Penrose with the informal census, said that was the total of passengers on six “peak” services trains that left for Britomart.

Three trains an hour have been running from Manukau at peak periods since the station opened about six weeks ago, and one an hour at other times.

Passengers counted by the councillors varied from just two each for trains that left at 6.10am and at 6.38am, to a peak of nine at 6.55am.

But patronage declined after that until 8.18am, when 14 caught a train.

The councillors say about 20 passengers arrived at Manukau over the two hours of their survey, although they were concentrating mainly on departing commuters

Yes well I might have mentioned something about the numbers. However I think people are looking at Manukau Station somewhat wrong in its usage profile. Manukau Station actually runs in reverse in the standard peak periods to most other stations. This means Manukau is a destination station like Britomart in the morning and a primary origin station again like Britomart in the evening. People would actually come to Manukau in the morning to work and leave again in the evening to return home. Of course you get the inter-peak period where you would get your shoppers and visitors just like Britomart. So with Manukau City Centre by definition the second core of Auckland (CBD is the first), treating the Manukau Station like Britomart in the fact its a core station which attracts people in the morning and boots them all out in the evening would assist in understanding the true dynamics of Manukau (and what it will become when the development is finished around it).

 

“People may say its early days, but for the investment Auckland has made in this double-track line into Manukau, and the huge amount that’s gone into this station, I would have hoped for better buy-in from the community,” said Mr Wood, who is from North Shore.

I’ll get to that further down when I call out Councillor Quax.

 

Told of an Auckland Transport report that said 53,142 passengers used the Manukau line in its first fortnight, he said train staff had told him most people boarded at stations such as Papatoetoe and Glen Innes, which are on the southern and eastern lines.

Well that would be true and I did mention it over at Auckland Transport Blog 😛 .

 

He blamed a decision by the former Manukau City Council for the new line to stop short of the area’s main shopping centre, the lack of a connection to southern population centres, and a lack of promotion. “It’s out of the way – to get there at 6am in the darkness, people have to walk through pretty desolate areas,” he said.

Now this is where the opening of this post comes into play – and a sharp email back to the Herald reporter (will be done after this post is up). I had written specifically about this in two separate posts: Manukau does have its short comings (MANUKAU STATION); and MISSING SOUTH-TO-PAPAKURA RAIL LINK and called out Councillor Quax on the issues raised. So again I call out Councillor Quax as he specifically voted against bringing the station down to the entrance of Westfield Manukau Mall. You can see my reasons and commentary in the linked posts. So taking a legitimate look at the station then raising it in the Herald – hmm I think that is called having a moment folks, especially when Manukau is my backyard and main place of social meetings and doing the shopping.

 

Moving along:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who headed the former Manukau council in approving the rail project with KiwiRail, expected the new line would “over time become a huge asset for public transport in the south”.

“At the moment, the new station is in the middle of a building site, but once the MIT campus is completed and more bus services terminate at the station, it’s worth will absolutely be proved,” he said.

He remained committed to adding a southern connection to the line, and as Manukau was the closest station to his home, “I intend to make it part of my regular rail commute”

Already commented on it with the “MISSING SOUTH-TO-PAPAKURA RAIL LINK” post – however now the Mayor is having a moment with this particular comment:

But a spokesman for Mr Brown was unable to say later whether the mayor had caught a train from the station since driving one through a ribbon there at an opening ceremony last month.

Umm – yeah nice vote of confidence from our resident Prude there. Heck Cllr George Wood has been out there now I think three times (both business and personal) since the station opened and he as it is stated is from the North Shore. Dedication with public transport there.

 

So as I have noted before here at VOAKL, Manukau Station does have its shortcomings. However the station does have potential once the urban development is complete and will easily become the third busiest station after Aotea (a City Rail Link Station) and probably Papakura (Britomart will drop off with the CRL in place) – with Manukau the second Core of Auckland and also having MASSIVE potential.

 

Just a word of advice to Councillors – please be careful. VOAKL does notice and will shoot commentary straight back – regardless of being friend or foe.

VOAKL does not like calling out people or institutions having moments – but will do so when needed. VOAKL: expressing one’s view.

 

Last word:

Got some interesting news about the City Rail Link – will post up on that next.

Away – and Back again

At National Party Northern Region Convention

VOAKL will be away today as I will be at the National Party Northern Region Convention all day.

Will be back tomorrow continuing the commentary on the City Rail Link and Long Term Plan.

[Update]

Back – decided not to go to the Dinner as I could not justify the expense to Rebekka.

So will get some smaller VOAKL commentary pieces up and oh shit – The Macro Business SUPER ROUND UP 2 needs to be done as well for your Sunday reading. Right better get cracking