Month: February 2013

LGOIMA Request Approved

Request into Rail Punctuality Etc  has been Approved

 

 

Good news folks. I had filed a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request to Auckland Transport on rail: punctuality, reliability, extensive patronage breakdown for the December-January period. This LGOIMA request was filed as the recent AT Statistics papers for the December 2012 – January 2013 were missing those particular figures that have been in previous statistics reports.

 

And go figure, guess what just got pointed to me by Auckland Transport Blog: those figures I asked for – stuck up on the AT website apparently yesterday after the meeting when not many of us would have being paying attention (The Board meeting was on Monday, today is Thursday).

 

Well thanks to pdfs and Scribd, here are those real figures for your inspection:

December 2012 – January 2013 Public Transport Figures – including: punctuality, reliability, and patronage by Line

 

 

Got no idea what AT are trying to hide as while punctuality still sucks, it is actually improving slowly but surely. Only problem is those rail patronage figures are still of major cause to be of concern.

Happy Reading

 

 

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Fare Evasion

Fare Evasion in Melbourne

 

Lesson for Auckland?

 

As AT-HOP continues to be rolled out across the Auckland public transport network (albeit late, over budget and full of bugs) I would like to remind Aucklanders of the Melbourne situation in regards to fare evasion from a similar system to ours which includes “enforcement officers.”

From The Age:

 

Thousands escape fare evasion fines

Date: February 25, 2013 Adam Carey

More than 21,000 people avoided paying a fine after being booked for fare evasion on Victorian public transport system last financial year – meaning almost 11.5 per cent of fines issued were not enforced.

Figures released to the Victorian Greens and made public on Monday reveal that people who challenge an infringement notice have a better than 10 per cent chance of avoiding the fine, despite high-profile advertising campaigns warning “there is no excuse”.

“[Public Transport Minister] Terry Mulder’s whole ‘get tough, no excuses’ line on fare evasion is hollow,” Victoria Greens leader Greg Barber said.

“Ticket inspectors sometimes get it wrong. Special circumstances sometimes apply and the courts form their own view. That’s why 11.5 per cent of all tickets aren’t enforced – a pretty poor hit rate by any standards.”

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The figures show that 188,566 infringement notices were issued in 2011-12 and 21,674 of those were withdrawn.

Most withdrawals, 17,152, came with an official warning, with just 591 notices being withdrawn completely after being reviewed. A further 2417 fines were waived after being challenged in court.

Mr Barber said the state’s system of using patrolling authorised officers to police fare evasion was inefficient. He called for a return of tram conductors and fully staffed railway stations, not seen since the 1990s.

“It’s a pretty inefficient way to try to reduce fare evasion,” Mr Barber said.

“You’ve got to make it normal to meet a human, buy a ticket, have your ticket checked, or you’re never going to get any progress.”

A Public Transport Victoria spokeswoman said everyone was expected to have a valid ticket, but that passengers had a legal right to appeal against their fine.

“By far the most common reason for fines being withdrawn is where a passenger travelling on a concession fare has forgotten to carry their proof of eligibility,” the spokeswoman said.

“Where they can later produce proof of their concession entitlement, the fine may be withdrawn. Clear cases of fare evasion, such as those travelling with no ticket at all, will get fined and no excuse will be tolerated.”

The fine for travelling without a ticket is $207.

Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said last month that much fare evasion was “opportunistic” because of the lack of customer service staff on the network.

“There needs to be a full staff presence at every station from first to last train … it is simply penny-pinching to not provide that staff presence now,” Dr Morton said.

“It is no doubt that some fare evasion on the train system is opportunistic evasion that might be avoided if there was a consistent staff presence on stations and people had an idea that they might get caught.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/thousands-escape-fare-evasion-fines-20130225-2f162.html#ixzz2M45Q7Lit

 

Rather disturbing from Melbourne.

 

Now reading the Business Report from the February Auckland Transport Board agenda it states on page 19 that 16% to 23% of passengers travelling by rail were checked by roving Ticket Inspectors with an unknown percentage not having a valid ticket or tagged on AT-HOP card. 16% – 23% means a maximum of 6.000 individual checks done (according to the Business Report) where there is an estimate of around 30,000 passengers travelling per (week)day on the network across some 326 approximate services (Monday to Thursday, with more on Friday, and less on Saturday and Sunday). It means in technical terms that upwards of 23% of total revenue from rail passengers is protected meaning currently some 77% if total revenue if everyone paid their fare (or had a Super Gold concession) per day is at potential risk. In saying that there is safeguards at Newmarket and Britomart where you need a ticket or AT-HOP card one way or the other to get through the gate system, but the idea is to not get that far without a ticket.

77% of your revenue at risk from fare evasion – due to only 23% of all passengers being individually checked by roving Ticket Inspectors – big case of OUCH! So it begs the question would you take the risk on skipping out of your fare providing you were not passing through Britomart and Newmarket ? With those figures I quoted it would be a case of “Why Not!”

 

Now before anyone points fingers, I am a good citizen and tag on and off with my AT-HOP card when travelling by train – so I pay my fare as it is only fair.

 

What I am pointing out is that Auckland with AT-HOP has the potential issues as Melbourne does with Fare Evasion – although Melbournites face a stiffer penalty at $207 (Australian) and a higher chance of getting caught. Our poultry “penalty” fare is $10.30 and moves to $20 next month – however this limitation is due to legislation issues currently being sorted to address.

 

We also have the two issues with AT-HOP of: lack of customer service, and the reliability of Rail Ticket Machines and Tagging Posts (I usually do a post every fortnight on the machines breaking down over the weekends). I will write separate posts on these in due course however, those issues do not really inspire confidence in the public transport ticketing system to the point they could act as a catalyst to fare evade.

 

So a warning from Melbourne and another LGOIMA request to go fill out.

 

I wonder if “we” are taking in the lessons learned from our cousins in Australia?

Wary on PPPs

Proceed With Caution On PPP’s

 

Based on Australian Experience

 

 

I love Brisbane and am going back there for a holiday in the middle of March. Brisbane is my second home and where I lived for two years as part of my err “gap-year.” Brisbane is also similar in some respects to Auckland in regards to its civic structure, urban fabric, transportation systems, and political stupidity in investing in the wrong project.

Now I did just say political stupidity – and why is that? Check these two pieces from NZ and Brisbane on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) not delivering as they were meant to:

 

First from the NZ Herald:

Stephen King: PPPs need better ways to handle risk

5:30 AM Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

As another toll road in Australia fails, what is the future for public-private partnerships?

 

Instead of taking traffic off congested suburban roads, high tolls may mean too few cars use the toll road. Photo / APN

Is there a future for privately funded toll roads? BrisConnections has been placed into administration only seven months after opening the Brisbane Airport Link toll road/tunnel. It has not had sufficient users to make the project viable. So what does this mean for future public-private partnerships (PPPs)?

In the short term, it will mean very little. The citizens of Brisbane have a great tunnel that (from my experience) cuts significant time off a trip to the airport. The investors have done their dough. And there may be various lawsuits about who misled whom.

However, this is the fourth in a series of PPP toll road failures, including Sydney’s Lane Cove and Cross City tunnels, and Brisbane’s Clem7. If PPPs are to have a future, we need better ways to handle the project risk.

The risk associated with large infrastructure projects can be significant. For toll roads, the viability of a project depends on projections of future traffic flows. But these flows may be highly variable, depending on a range of choices by the government and car users

 

You can read the rest over at the Herald website

 

Now what Mr King was referring to in regards to PPP failure and by virtual extension political stupidity in Brisbane is this Brisbane Times piece I Facebooked not so long ago:

From Brisbane Times:

Airport Link in administration

Date February 19, 2013 Bridie Jabour

Brisbane’s Airport Link tunnel has gone into voluntary administration. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

UPDATED

The $4.8 billion Airport Link tunnel has been placed into voluntary administration.

In an announcement to ASX, tunnel’s operator BrisConnections said the company had decided to place the tunnel into administration citing low traffic levels and debts worth more than the tunnel.

The board of BrisConnections entered negotiations in November to restructure the tunnel’s debt but on Monday night, the board was told lenders were not prepared to support any of the restructure proposals.

The latest traffic figures show an average of 47,802 vehicles using the 6.7 kilometre Airport Link each day, about half of the original forecasts which had daily traffic of 90,000 vehicles.

BrisConnection conceded in the ASX statement that an extensive marketing and phased-in toll regime had failed to attract enough traffic but Non-Executive Chairman Trevor Rowe was still positive about the future of the tunnel.

‘‘It’s disappointing that the board has to reach this decision,’’ he said.

‘‘The AiportlinkM7 is unquestionably a world class piece of transport infrastructure that will continue to support Brisbane’s growth into the decades ahead.’’

BrisConnections was placed into a trading halt in November and two board directors resigned after a dismal report to the ASX on Airport Link.

In the report, the company admitted for the first time the tunnel’s debt might be more than its value and a research analyst said at the time the most likely option for the Airport Link was to put it up for sale.

The tunnel had a toll free period which ended in October last year with traffic forecasts falling tens of thousands of vehicles short even when the ride was free.

The costs of building Airport Link blew out so much for construction company Leighton Holdings that it contributed to them posting a yearly loss of more than $200 million which has been turned around to a $450 million profit since it handed over the tunnel and its other high profile troubled project, the Victorian desalination plant.

Airport Link was opened in July 2012 and connects Brisbane’s northern suburbs with Brisbane’s CBD and the airport, the Clem7 and the Inner City Bypass.

The tunnel will remain open and available to users as normal.

Airport Link is the second Brisbane tunnel to financially collapse with the operator of Clem7, RiverCity Motorway Group, going into receivorship in November with $1.3 billion worth of debts.

News of Airport Link’s collapse forced Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk to defend Brisbane City Council‘s decision to push ahead with the city’s third toll tunnel, the $1.5 billion Legacy Way tunnel

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/airport-link-in-administration-20130219-2eope.html#ixzz2M2OKsOiE

 

 

The Brisbane saga should sound a warning to both Central Government who are ploughing on with the Wellington Transmission Gully Motorway – which is a PPP (the Herald article above mentions the risks of that as well) and our Auckland Council if we consider PPPs for some of our larger projects including the City Rail Link.

 

I have called for a PPP with the City Rail Link with our public authorities handing the tunnel construction and maintenance, while having private companies operate the stations for say 50 years providing they get the rights for urban development (including sky rights) in the immediate vicinity of stations as part of a wider investment program. Now I know in Tokyo’s railway has stations that are built and run by companies basically on behalf of the rail metro line and in the same token have developed often impressive complexes of residential, commercial office and commercial services (retail, malls, hotels) above and around the said station.

These impressive complexes allow the Tokyo authorities to share some of the costs of rail metro line station building with private companies in return for pretty much guaranteed patronage due to the urban complexes built above and around the stations.

So there are cases where PPPs for in this case with Tokyo – rail can work. This could be a very good example for Auckland to follow-up on when the CRL is being built. However the Brisbane and Transmission Gully Wellington Road PPP projects (go figure – I said roads) are also examples on what NOT to do with PPPs.

 

So Auckland (including AT and Council) still have a long and hard road ahead in plausible financial planning for some of our larger mega-projects like the much needed City Rail Link. On one side it could go extremely wrong and bankrupt the city, on the other we get an golden opportunity for a needed transit link and some actual world class urban renewal in our grey and drab CBD!

 

Food for thought

 

 

Generation Zero: Support on Public Transport

Press Release from Generation Zero

 

On

 

Increasing Support for Public Transport Investment

 

I have certainly not forgotten about Generation Zero and their efforts for more balanced transport funding. This was from them today over the latest UMR Poll in regards to transport funding support levels:

 

From Scoop.co.nz – Scoop Media

Poll shows Govt’s dinosaur transport plans behind the times

Monday, 25 February 2013, 3:41 pmPress Release: Generation Zero

Poll shows Government’s ‘dinosaur’ transport plans behind the times

25 February 2013

Youth organisation Generation Zero has endorsed a recent poll by UMR research showing that support for spending on public transport has doubled over the last 20 years.

When asked whether they preferred Government money being spent on motorways and public roads or on public transport, 48 per cent of survey participants supported spending on public transport – in contrast, 37 per cent supported spending on motorways and public roads.

The poll by UMR Research shows the changing times in New Zealand with a reverse from 1992, when 43 per cent of those surveyed preferred Government money to be spent on motorways and other public roads, compared with 25 per cent support for public transport as the priority spending candidate.

Generation Zero spokesperson Louis Chambers said, “It’s time for the Government to get with the times on transport funding in New Zealand.”

The centrepiece of the Government’s transport strategy is to spend over $12 billion on its seven so-called ‘Roads of National Significance’.

To raise the money for these motorways, the Government has had to raise fuel taxes and is amending the Land Transport Management Act to allow the New Zealand Transport Agency unlimited borrowing capacity with only a signoff from the Finance Minister required.

Meanwhile, the Government is refusing to fund smart transport initiatives like the Auckland City Rail Link, and the National Land Transport Programme 2012-15 shows that for every dollar invested in new infrastructure for rail, buses, walking and cycling, 20 dollars will be spent on new state highways.

“This poll shows that New Zealanders understand our transport future can’t look like the past, and smart cities need smart transport systems to support them,” said Mr Chambers.

“But the Government doesn’t seem to get it – spending billions on unnecessary and uneconomic motorways like the Kapiti Expressway at the expense of vital smart transport projects like the City Rail Link.”

“The Government’s dinosaur transport plans will entrench ‘business as usual’, locking us into increased carbon emissions and dependence on foreign oil. As young Kiwis, that’s not what the future we want to be handed.”

“It’s time to deliver New Zealanders the better public transport systems that they’re calling for, but this will only be possible if we stop throwing money at these motorways of madness.”

About Generation Zero:
Generation Zero is an independent youth organisation seeking to catalyse action on climate change in New Zealand. For more information see:
www.generationzero.org.nz
www.facebook.com/GenerationZero

ENDS

——————————————————

The UMR poll was pretty convincing and I am willing to support Generation Zero in their call made above about our Dinosaur Central Government being that – Dinosaurs in regards to these Roads of National (Party) Significance.

BR:AKL also continues to support Generation Zero’s 50:50 transport funding campaign. 😀

THE MANUKAU INTERCHANGE – Work Resumed?

Work Resumed on the Stalled MIT and Manukau Transport Interchange Building?

 

 

Last Friday before heading to up north for a spectacular weekend away chill-laxing I popped in Manukau to do some last-minute shopping (as you do). As I was coming down State Highway One to approach the Manukau turn-off I noticed the Mainzeal crane was actually working at the MIT and Manukau Transport Interchange site. I thought to myself; “Okay, have we started again?” As I have covered in previous posts such as the “THE MANUKAU INTERCHANGE – FROM THE HILL” work has stalled at the site leaving the place like a mess and an eye sore.

 

Here are the recent photos from the site with the crane actually working

2013-02-22 12.55.04

 

 

2013-02-22 12.54.59

 

Click pictures for full resolution

 

So a good sign that the crane was working and workers milling around? In this case it is a no. I went up to the fence at the site entrance to have a closer look and saw no construction trucks of any kind. What was happening is that the crane was lifting down portable generators and other construction equipment into trucks and the subsequent equipment being taken off site.

Umm not so good as that means the site is now pretty much abandoned with a small squad of security guards posted at the entrance gate keeping a watch. It also means Auckland Transport will not be opening their new transport interchange at the same site in June (which was already a delayed date – the interchange was meant to be open next month) if I read their February Board Meeting Agenda properly.

 

To add a new twist to this I am reading that the Auckland Council Governing Body is having its meeting at the Manukau Civic Building which is where I had my RPTP hearing earlier AND is right next to the MIT site. Now is the mayor and councillors going to take the train from Britomart to Manukau Station (which is under the MIT building site) and back again for this meeting or they going to chicken out and take cars? While at the Civic Building I wonder if George, Sharon and Dick will take the rest of the Governing Body to the MIT eye sore and show the rest of the Councillors and Mayor what South Auckland is currently lugged with. I might show up as the tour guide just to emphasis a point to boot.

 

Regular updates from the Manukau Interchange will occur until the building is finally complete. In the meantime it really does look like an eye sore from the outside AND inside…

Speech From Brewer

Speech from Councillor Cameron Brewer

 

Delivered to ACT Conference

 

I have been away over the weekend attending our annual Church Family Camp up at Whangaparaoa Peninsular and enjoying the absolute stunner of the weather. In saying that and while New Zealand is lagging behind in the digital age (you try your “internet” via cell phone network outside of the main centres) I was able to keep up with some news out of the city.

Of particular note was Councillor Cameron Brewer’s speech to the ACT Party Conference somewhere out in the whop whops. I shall leave you to read the speech below and feel free to comment as you (respectfully wish)

 

Speech notes by Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer Act Party 2013 Conference, Gibbs Farm, Kaukapakapa Saturday, 23 February 2013

Ratepayers yet to see the real promise of one city

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Former Act leader and Minister of Local Government, Hon Rodney Hide, did a great job amalgamating the eight former regional, city and district councils into one unitary authority, Auckland Council. The architecture has proven to be sound with no serious legislative changes mooted.

Today however I will argue that while the architecture of the Super City remains sound, benefits for ratepayers that should have been delivered have yet to be delivered by the local body politicians. The public of Auckland was told that it wasn’t necessarily going to be any cheaper, but one council would be better on their back-pockets now and in the future.

Nearly two and a half years into the Len Brown centre-left inaugural council, most ratepayers would argue their back-pockets have yet to see any benefits. But when you consider the personalities involved that’s not surprising.

Only a few years ago the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor were adamantly opposed to amalgamation. They were matching in the streets against the prospect of Auckland Council.

In essence the Mayor will never be interested in driving and delivering on all the amalgamation’s financial promise and potential, because he never wanted it in the first place. What drives him is community development and pulling the once disparate areas of Auckland together and on that front he has done well.

But let’s not forget the primary drivers of this amalgamation were economic. So how are we doing?

In the current financial year, over half of Auckland households are paying an average of 8.1% more in rates than last year, and the news gets no better in the coming financial year for wards like mine. In the ward of Orakei 67% of households are up for another 5 – 10% rates increase from July. The Left’s low Uniform Annual General Charge is not helping.

Like 133,000 other households, I am paying the full 10% cap this year and will again next year, and the following. That’s because my rates went up 32.4%, with the increase split over three years. So while I’m paying 10% more in Ellerslie after municipal amalgamation, the average Christchurch resident is paying 7.8% more after their massive earthquakes. Go figure!

Mayor Brown is going around telling everyone that the average regional rates increase for 2013/14 will be 2.9% but that’s not how it will be felt by many, particularly on the Auckland isthmus.

In fact the old Auckland City Council area will also have to get used to user-pays rubbish in the next couple of years, not to mention ongoing regulatory fee increases. Then we have the prospect of tolling the existing motorway network and/or a regional petrol tax, as well as the plan to ban all open fireplaces, but I digress. Debt at Auckland Council is growing at nearly $3m a day. Our latest 2011/12 Annual Report showed that total council group debt has increased by $1b, from $4.0b to $5.0b in just 12 months. Now that’s nothing on central government’s ongoing borrowings, but we are not even a state government. We are a local council, yet the plan is to triple council debt this decade and already the debt ceiling has been lifted to enable this.

In this relatively flat economic environment household debt has been shrinking and the Government rightly remains committed to getting back into surplus, so it’s totally out of whack that council borrowings have gone up 25% in the past year alone.

It is future ratepayers who will be lumped with the crippling interest payments, projected to be close to ½ billion dollars a year by the end of this decade. Not to mention Eden Park! The latest annual report also revealed that 1,165 staff now earn more than $100,000 and 123 earn over $200,000. Comparative figures show that we pay our executives, specialists and managers much more than what Air New Zealand pays. So if your son or daughter wants to become a pilot, tell them to become a public servant!

There seems to be a job for everyone in Auckland Council. That same annual report, published late last year also revealed that the number of full-time equivalent staff went up 12% from an estimated 7,200 to 8,040. That’s 840 more staff in 12 months, taking the wage bill to over 2/3rds of a billion dollars or $670m, and that is just FTES. There are even more individuals on the books, and of course these numbers exclude the many consultants and contractors engaged by the council.

Rest assured we will be watching further creep on staff numbers and costs. That’s not what the people of Auckland were promised. Nor did ratepayers think the Mayor’s Office would come with six spin-doctors and a budget of $4.9m a year to run.

The Government’s Better Local Government reforms are all about tightening the leash but so far we’ve seen little real change. Some of us however are looking forward to the second part of the reforms to be introduced to Parliament by the new Local Government Minister. My message to Chris Tremain is keep the pressure on. Local Government New Zealand told us from their ratepayer-funded Queenstown conference last year that it doesn’t like these reforms, but the public does.

One project that’s really going to put pressure on Auckland Council’s 500,000 ratepayers now and in the future is the City Rail Link.

On Monday the Minister of Transport said he thought that 2030 was a more realistic delivery date, but the Mayor won’t hear it. He wants to cut the ribbon in eight short years and rest assured the borrowing is already in full swing to achieve that completely unrealistic timeframe.

In the council’s draft annual plan another $180m is set aside for this project for this coming year.

This ratepayer-funded spending comes without any government commitment whatsoever. The Prime Minister is on the record for saying the CBD project at this point in time just simply doesn’t stack up and will do little to reduce Auckland’s region-wide congestion. Nonetheless the ratepayer is now committed, like it or not. The $2.8b City Rail Link has gone up six fold in estimated cost in the past eight years, and as sure as night follows day the cost will keep going up. Amazingly, the nearly $1 million a metre cost, and the fact that the Government remains completely unconvinced and uncommitted, are not the most concerning aspects of this project. The biggest worry is that this project almost completely strangles every other potential public transport project, at a time when rail patronage is falling.

According to Auckland Transport’s Draft Auckland Regional Public Transport Plan published in October, “approximately 80 percent” of the region’s 10-year public transport infrastructure budget is set to be solely allocated to the City Rail Link. The remaining 20% will be thinly spread across all other regional rail improvements, new and improved ferry terminals, bus lanes and corridors, and park and ride facilities.

Spending approximately 80 percent of the 10-year budget on this one CBD-based project, where less than 10 percent of Aucklanders’ live or work, is not a balanced approach, and will not deliver a strong and mixed integrated transport system.

At the very least, let’s first secure some government commitment, and let’s get some agreement from the motoring public that they’re prepared to pay tolls or more fuel taxes, before we commit the poor old suburban ratepayer any more. Just on Auckland Transport, that council-controlled organisation is working well but there are concerns that where we might’ve once had territorial silos under the old structure, now with our seven CCOs, we’re possibly seeing departmental silos emerge with some empire building well underway.

I support further rationalisation of our CCOs. I support a greater role and greater budgets for our 21 local boards. I support a renewed focus on the council getting its overheads down. I support a greater focus on core council business, and I support the Mayor learning to say no. I also want to see a more functional relationship with central government.

Next month the Auckland Council releases its draft Unitary Plan for public input. The plan is for widespread intensification. Our town centres and suburbs will be changed forever. It will mean another burst of infill and many angry neighbours. We’ve been told for two years by the Left that the public wants a “compact city”, let’s now see. Consultation closes 31 May. Get involved.

I want to also talk about the election promise of greater transparency and accountability. And give you two examples from many of where this council has erred.

Two weeks ago the Office of the Ombudsman confirmed it will investigate my complaint over the council’s refusal to disclose what it has paid its different legal providers over the past two years. The Auckland Council and its CCOs last year spent over $20m on lawyers, but only Watercare was prepared to reveal how much it paid each external provider.

The ratepayers’ right to know how much of their money is being pumped into which lawyers surely overrides the need to protect our city’s big law firms. I await the Ombudsman’s ruling with interest.

Secondly when it comes to the promise of greater transparency and accountability, the plan to put up to $30m of ratepayers’ money for a whitewater rafting facility does not live up to best practice.

This pet project of transforming the paddock that sits between Manukau’s TelstraClear Stadium and the Southern Motorway into rapids is set to leapfrog its way into this year’s council budget. This is despite the project being resoundingly voted down by the previous Manukau City Council and the fact that it was not part of Auckland Council’s 10-year Long Term Plan.

So while the kids of Manukau are set to get a cool whitewater rafting facility, from 1 July the roadside grass verges throughout the former Auckland City area will no longer be mowed by the council.

Ladies and Gentleman – that is how crazy things have got. Whitewater rafting is now council business, mowing council-owned lawns is not. Yes make a submission to our draft 13/14 budget by 4pm this Monday, but more importantly the centre-right needs your support this spring, with the postal ballot results for the local body elections set to announced on Saturday 12 October.

The focus for some of us is not on the mayoralty. The focus will be on getting the numbers around the table but it will be an uphill battle. Only five of us councillors voted against the Mayor’s $58b 10-year budget last year. We’ve got a lot of work to do if the centre-right is to gain the majority – that is at least 11 around a table of 21.

The first job of the new council will be to appoint a new council chief executive from a short- list of candidates. That is another key reason why the 2013 local body elections are critical for ratepayers.

Don’t be fooled by those councillors who masquerade as centre-right. Look at their voting record when they’re at the town hall. Despite north of the harbour bridge being painted blue in Parliament, at Auckland Council only Cr George Wood provides a centre-right voice and vote.

Yes the council has transitioned and worked well enough at an operational level, yes the Super City architecture has stood up to public and political pressures, but no the many promises of amalgamation have not, and will not, be fully realised by the current leadership. Auckland’s ratepayers were promised much more and deserve much better.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, having represented the people of Newmarket and Remuera for the past eight years as head of the Newmarket Business Association and as a local councillor, I have no doubt whatsoever that Epsom voters’ primary interest next year will be to ensure their fellow local resident John Key gets a third term as Prime Minister.

I wish you all, your leader Hon John Banks, and president John Boscawen all the very best for this year and next.

Thank you.

Ends Cameron Brewer (021) 828-016

 

One thing that I will add though is my reaction to Brewer’s speech. I am pragmatist and will not plonk myself in the ideological boxes of Centre-Left and Centre-Right within the Council. That means both sides are up for critique when warranted, the same for praise where it is due.

So in this instance I am siding with Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse’s call on Brewer’s speech:

From Facebook

I seem to have been left off the invitation list to the ACT party conference this weekend? Can’t say I am that surprised, never really hit it off with Hide! Several of my fellow councillors however appear to be there. Reading one of their conference speeches I see that the election is well underway and will be focussed entirely on getting rid of the mayor. Whilst they talk, the rest of us will continue to focus on making this city work, doing the hard yards, like getting the Unitary plan out for consultation. It is easy to simply sit and throw stones, it is harder to stand up and work with your community to build a better Auckland.

My dual replies were:
Ben Ross Quoting Two Items from Brewer’s speech:
1) [The focus for some of us is not on the mayoralty. The focus will be on getting the numbers around the table but it will be an uphill battle]. Seems “they” have given up and resort to attacks if nothing else. I do not personally see a swing over to the hard right and maybe not even centre-right at the moment. So waste of text pixels there as the battle is not up-hill but a cliff that one might not have a clue on how to scale.

2) [Don’t be fooled by those councillors who masquerade as centre-right. Look at their voting record when they’re at the town hall. Despite north of the harbour bridge being painted blue in Parliament, at Auckland Council only Cr George Wood provides a centre-right voice and vote.] I think someone just announced their tilt at mayorship and who would be deputy mayor. George I would distance yourself from that comment quickly – too distracting.

3) [The focus for some of us is not on the mayoralty. The focus will be on getting the numbers around the table but it will be an uphill battle. Only five of us councillors voted against the Mayor’s $58b 10-year budget last year. We’ve got a lot of work to do if the centre-right is to gain the majority – that is at least 11 around a table of 21.] AND repeating the point made in (2) – I do feel sorry for Christ Fletcher there who I consider a reliable work horse with the Unitary Plan and Auckland Transport…

So of little note here – no alternatives, no vision. Something I am missing here
And
Ben Ross Second part from me (yay spamming comment boxes) 
There are two ways this can be approached with Council:
1) Work together despite your different views
2) Be combative and utterly waste my time

I know which one I prefer when working with Councillors – even when I might be a bit “tough” on them some days 😉

You can see I am not overtly impressed with Brewer’s speech.

 

That part in bold stems from a conversation I had with our Deputy Mayor in regards to the Unitary Plan which is about to be released for community feedback. Yes I have strong views on the practical level with the Unitary Plan stemming from the view I hold that the Unitary Plan is too thick and needs to go on a crash diet. And while I know Councillors and Auckland Transport read this blog, I can be admittedly “tough” on them but I sometimes need too. Got to keep them both on their toes and honest. But at the end of the day I can either be combative and go no where as Councillor Brewer is right now with that speech of his, or I work with Penny and we get this Unitary Plan tightened up before it becomes operational.

My “heads up” on the Unitary Plan nearly ready to be released for community feedback can be found at my “UNITARY PLAN READY FOR THE COMMUNITY” post here at BR:AKL.
I shall be back tomorrow with more commentary and idea scoping – all here at BR:AKL