Auckland Transport Obstinate – as Usual
Patrick from Transport Blog has written a sharp but understandable post on a meeting last night over the fate of six Pohutukawa trees planted some 80-plus years ago due for the chop to widen a road.
From Transport Blog
Of Experts, Damned Lies, and Pohutukawa
I have just returned from an extremely dispiriting experience. A room full of people including representatives from Local Boards, David Shearer the local MP, and many extremely frustrated members of the public were attempting to discuss the fate of the St Lukes Pohutukawa Six with a bunch of engineers from AT, NZTA, and the private sector. To no avail.
The meeting [which apparently wasn’t a meeting; but I’ll come to that later] was run by AT’s Howard Marshall, who despite an unfortunately arrogant air for such a role at least had the courtesy and courage to introduce himself, unlike the rest of the state and city apparatchiks and their subcontractors [who, for example, was the white haired man sitting with the public who summoned Marshall mid meeting into a whispered private conference from which he emerged even more defensive and inflexible?].
Marshall was determined that no discussion would take place, the commissioners had spoken, and as far as he was concerned that was all that mattered. A degree of self-serving pedantry that we have seen before on this matter. So here was a room full of the public faced with a public servant who somehow decided that the best way to get this beastly business over with was to define it out of existence; ‘this is not a public meeting’ he droned, over and over. The word ‘Kafka’ was soon being muttered in the row behind me as he answered very specific questions about the placement of lanes with his view on the metaphysics of this non-meeting.
But faced with the relatively straight-forward question about process he reached for new technique: ‘Could’, he was asked, ‘AT change its mind about destroying the trees if it found another way to deliver sufficient transport outcomes?’
Perhaps he was malfunctioning? Or was it just an absurd question to put to a Traffic Engineer? Could their work ever be improved? How could that be; look around this city – is it not an image of heavenly perfection? Or rather was he caught between admitting that they don’t have to do this, which is clearly true, AT change their minds frequently enough, and knowing that he was supposed to the hold the line against even the slightest hint that AT could stop this action by any means short of an order from the Environment Court? Yes.
Source and full post: http://transportblog.co.nz/2015/01/21/of-pohutukawa-damned-lies-and-experts/
From what I have seen thus far as usual Auckland Transport especially the traffic engineers concerned with the St Lukes Interchange that causes the loss of the trees are being pure obstinate as usual. Nothing unusual there from those engineers and Auckland Transport.
What is also proving to be fast expectant is our Councillors and the Mayor being extremely quiet on the matter as well.
At a public meeting over the six Pohutukawa’s (which AT refused to call it a public meeting 😛 ) the Waitemata Local Board was present and MP David Shearer was present as elected representatives for the given area. However, I note Waitemata Ward Councillor Mike Lee was not present, the Mayor was not present, other Councillors were not present, and our Deputy Mayor was not present to show solidarity in support for the Local Board and the trees. I also point out as the Mayor has said many times Auckland is The World’s Most Liveable City. Hmmm chopping six historic native trees to widen a road for more cars is not quite what I would encourage The World’s Most Liveable City’s mantra.
Note: I have been informed that the meeting last night was primarily around the Waterview Connection and that the tree situation at St Lukes was put onto the agenda. However, given the gravity and well known situation I still expect Councillors to be present especially of the local MP shows up.
I am finding our Mayor and Councillors silence over the matter disconcerting. They say the silence is deafening and I wonder if our Councillors and Mayor are silent is due to them being afraid their own position will get them caught out in next years elections?
So the question asked is now what?
I have heard rumours of bringing in the Environment Court over the Pohutukawa decision signed off by Planning Commissioners. Whether this will happen is yet to be seen.
Our first Ward Councillor has replied on the matter, from the North Shore it seems:
So Chris Darby is our first Councillor coming out publicly on the situation. Where are the rest? Still too many posting holiday Facebook pictures it seems…