Month: February 2013

Annual Plan Submissions Due

Have Your Say on the Auckland Council Draft 2013/2014 Annual Plan


Auckland Council have called for submissions to the Draft 2013/2014 Annual Plan – the main budgetary document for Auckland Council for the next 12 months. All revenue and expected expenses (including capital outlay for proposed capital projects) over this twelve month period are laid out in the Annual Plan documents which I shall link and embed below.


I am still working through the Draft Annual Plan at the moment before compiling a submission (submissions close 4pm – 25 February 2013) but will upload my submission to BR:AKL as soon as it is done.


Amendment to the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan

It is of note that Council has asked for our feedback via the submissions on the “Regional Facilities Auckland grant towards development of the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre” – which is building this White Water Rafting Facility at a cost to the ratepayer of $32m as well as taking on some financial risk if the project fails. In order for this development to happen (and as stated in the Draft Annual Plan) there will have to be an amendment to the 2012-2022 Long Term Plan which is already in operation. This would be because this particular development is calling on for extra funds made outside what has been allocated already in the existing and current Long Term Plan.

As a result I will be submitting in strong opposition to this as it creates precedent for every other Tom, Dick and Harry project with dubious actual economic merit to come before Council and thus allowing an existing LTP to be butchered to cater for it – when if needed, it should be kicked over to the next Long Term Plan which is the 2015-2025 LTP.

This is not how we budget for things anywhere – and I expect Council to follow the same standard. Besides I can think of better used to go and sink $32m such as cleaning up Otara Creek which is a toxic site or to our struggling Local Boards to fund local community facilities or events.


However I will run further commentary on this as I draw up my submission


In the mean time some links and documents


Web Links to Council Annual Plan

Draft annual plan 2013/2014 – Home Page

Draft annual plan 2013/2014 – Documents

Draft annual plan 2013/2014 – Key topics and events

Draft annual plan 2013/2014 – Draft Annual Plan 2013/2014: Have your say


The Annual Plan Documents

VolumeOne of the Draft Annual Plan

Volume Two of the Draft Annual Plan

Volume Three of the Draft Annual Plan


And the movements in Rates per Local Board Areas:

(Yep another rates decrease coming my way)



85th Blog in NZ


85th equal out of 275 New Zealand blogs (that have publicly available site-meters as BR:AKL does)


That kicks BR:AKL into the top 30% – a nice small quiet achievement that brought a 🙂 to my face this afternoon.


You can see the rankings at “Open Parachute’s January ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking



Visit Rank Blog Visits/month Page Views/month
85b Ben Ross: Auckland 1585 2432


I think it might be time for a quiet beer and reflection as I continue to take BR:AKL forward 😀


A Look at Manukau

Taking at a Look at Manukau


Last December I had filed a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request into the business case study of the now Auckland Transport Ronwood Avenue Parking Building: LGOIMA REQUEST OUT – MANUKAU CAR PARK

Well today I joined up with Councillors George Wood, Sharon Stewart and Dick Quax for lunch and a quick look at the Manukau Rail Station as well as the Ronwood Avenue Parking Building. These are the photos I took:


The Manukau station is still as dead as a Do-Do and I am hearing reports that the MIT Building and/or ticket office on-top of the Manukau Station could open up to three months late as of current (So instead March we are looking at June at the earliest)


As for the AT Parking Building, oh boy not good. 456/671 spaces available (32% full) and the on-street parking which has cheaper Park and Display All-Day parking was only 67% full. To make things more interesting the signs at the entrance of the building gave an incorrect count. The entrance displayed 35 spaces available while the counter on Deck Two displayed 456 spaces available – so it is a case of which one is it. The fire exit door on Deck I think Six was locked so you could not go in out of it from that level while the entire Ground Level set aside for long-term lease holders was empty. And for the real head turner – AT dropped the ALL-DAY charge in the parking building from $19/day to $6/day, with the on-street parking still at I believe $4.50/day…


Heck I hope for revenue sake that the MIT opening and operation will fill up the car parking building other wise it is a truly dead duck. However we are also trying to encourage the students and staff to use public transport (hence MIT being right on top of the Manukau Station) so a conflicting situation here folks. Does AT encourage public transport to a dead station or private transport to a dead parking building?


A real head scratcher there folks…


Mayor Gets Left Behind

New Ferry Service Takes Off




Mayor Gets Left Behind


No I am not kidding – the mayor Len Brown DID get left behind forcing the ferry to turn around to come and get him after he was caught gas bagging and forgot to catch the service.


New Hobsonville Pt ferry service launched

For the first time in 50 years Auckland City has funded new ferry terminals in a bid to get commuters off the roads and onto the water.

A new ferry service was launched today and will connect the suburbs of Hobsonville and Beach Haven with downtown Auckland. Two morning and three afternoon services will run on weekdays.

The trips will take 30 minutes and cost $12 a ride for those paying cash, and less for those with an Auckland Transport Hop card.

Hundreds of people gathered to see the launch. The first passengers were Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Prime Minister John Key.

From downtown Auckland the ferry travels west on a scenic journey across the Waitemata Harbour.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Key.

“What you take for granted when you live in Auckland is just how beautiful the surroundings are, and you get a completely different perspective from the water. Can’t think of a nicer way to start the day,” the Helensville MP said.

The boat stops at the North Shore suburb of Beach Haven and then it’s just 400 metres across the water to Hobsonville, a trip the mayor nearly missed out on when the boat left without him



A Radio NZ piece has also come up on the new ferry service this morning that is worth a listen. You can listen by click the link HERE.

Two things that did catch my attention were the following:

  • I hear that right? The Beach Haven ferry service is cheaper due to a larger subsidy so it can COMPETE with the local buses in the area that also head to the same place as the ferry (Downtown).
    Ummm that is rather backwards and an honest flushing of cash down the loo…
  • And plodding along in the interview I just heard that those in Hobsonville have a bus service with no shelter, route map or timetable while AT just spent a few mil on the ferry docks? 
    Am I missing something here?

While I have confidence these ferry services will take off and be a success (got to get more sailings in) the concerns noted above won’t help gaining full confidence when there is so much work to get through in getting this right.


A good and basic system has started with this new ferry service, but the inner mechanics in AT when it comes to things like subsidies, competition and lack of facilities on existing services need to be ironed out before things can advance to a first class system.


I (well someone will) keep an eye on this and see where things ends up 12 months from now…

RPTP Presentation

Ready, Set, Go for Presentation


Thursday 7th February at 1400 hours – Manukau Civic Centre I give my presentation to the Regional Public Transport Plan submission I wrote last year. I have finally completed the presentation for the four panel members which includes Councillor Mike Lee and AT’s Head of Public Transport Operations – Mark Lambert, with the main focus being local. That is the focus is close to home and covers the Manurewa, Takanini, Manukau and Papakura areas (I live in Papakura).

The presentation in PDF format is embedded below:


The speaking slot is only 10 minutes however if the panel members have read my written submission already AND paid some attention to the blog where most of the presentation material has come from, then the bulk of the speaking session should be a dialogue between myself and the panel members as they flesh out the points I have made. Not  spending time going over the entire submission as our AT panel members should have already read it (the presentation basically is a refresher with some graphics thrown in to illustrate points).


Transportation to the Hearing


Now being the Social Liberal that I am and having declared earlier that I am sensitive to price and time consideration when choosing a mode of transit, we shall take a look at the options I have to get me from Papakura to Manukau.


Basic Requirement
  • Presentation is at 14:00-14:10
  • Location: Manukau Civic Centre – Manukau City Centre (same area as Westfield Manukau Mall and Manukau Train Station
  • Must be at Manukau by 13:40 to hand presentation and notes for the panel members


To go by car to Manukau

Using the motorways it would take 15 minutes to travel the 11.1km trip – this is one way. As parking is free the main cost is petrol so I would say $3 for the return trip


To go by train to Manukau

According to the AT Journey Planner

Not even an option as the train into Manukau Station either at 1:04pm or 2:05 pm – so missing the market entirely as I would need to catch the 12:40pm service from Papakura and relay with the Britomart – Manukau train service at Puhinui at 12:56pm. Cost if I did decide to do this is $1 to the Park and Ride at Papakura and a $3 – 2-stage fare using my AT-HOP card (approx).

For the trip home providing I was not held up I would catch the 14:31 service from Manukau to Puhinui and relay with the 14:46 Eastern Line train heading to Papakura which gets in at Papakura at 15:03pm. Again cost is the same as the trip into Manukau


To use the bus

Not my first choice however I do have the following: Route 472 (so a Great South Road trundler) departing at 12:50pm and getting me to Manukau Mall at 13:15pm. Cost is $3.40 – two stage. Now the actual time consumer is the walk from the Manukau bus stop to the Civic Centre which takes another 10 minutes. So providing the bus was not late I would arrive at the Civic centre at 13:30 give or take.

Trip home would entail the following: Bus leaving (again the 472) 14:45 and getting to Papakura at 15:15 with the fare being $3.40.


So $3 and 25 minutes by car for the return trip, or over an hour and costing $8 approx for using a bus (trains do not even get a mention as the time is just too excessive to consider unless I really want to time waste).


I think CAR is the preferred choice for my trip to and from Manukau on Thursday; based on cost, efficiency and time. It shouldn’t be the case but it is – and now you can see why I am submitting to the RPTP so this situation should not happen!


Rather ironic isn’t it?

Alcohol and Local Community

Auckland Council Begins Work on Alcohol Control Measures


Central Government last year passed the Sale and Supply Alcohol Act which gives Council and Local Board increased authority and delegation on how alcohol (a demerit good) is sold and supplied in local communities.

Councillor George Wood has been made chairman of a working party (as noted in his Facebook status below) of members Auckland Council and Local Board to begin the slow and long process in getting ready to set up a Local Alcohol Policy or LAP:

George Wood shared a link.
Auckland Council starts long process to prepare local alcohol policy. I’m chairman of the working party along w/ 7 Crs and 7 LB members.


George also Scribd‘ed a fact sheet on Part One in developing such a LAP:


So as alluded to Part One is developing a Draft Local Alcohol Policy before step two kicks off which is: consultation


BR:AKL will keep an eye on Councillor Wood’s working party as it begins drawing up a Draft LAP and see where this new direction in alcohol policy goes for Auckland and its Local Boards