Economies of Scale vs Local Accessibility
It seems Orsman has been writing tripe about Auckland Council Service Centres again. While I am not going to link it the reply from Auckland Council came through with the following:
No customer service centre closures
Contrary to reports in today’s New Zealand Herald, Auckland Council is not closing customer service centres.
Rod Aitken, Head of Corporate Property, said the council’s new corporate property portfolio strategy will not result in any closures of customer service centres, but they may be relocated within their communities.
“If approved, the new model will deliver increased efficiency and offer more flexible services for customers across the Auckland region. The strategy will see an increase from 86 to 96 percent of Auckland’s population living within 10km of our council workplaces, and from 46 to 100 percent of the council’s 13 wards with face-to-face access to council services.
“New hubs will bring together our back-office operational staff in three key growth areas: Manukau, North West (to be confirmed through a rigorous selection process) and the CBD. This will reduce the number of council buildings being used and reduce operational costs.
“These hubs will be supported by spokes, where customer service teams will continue to provide front-line services.
“The spokes will enable our staff to work closer to their customers and community, utilising existing spaces we already occupy such as Local Board offices, libraries and community centres.
“We’re committed to maintaining a good customer service presence around the region. Our customer service centres may be accommodated in different buildings in the same area – the changes will improve services and reduce spend.
“This is an opportunity for us to provide upgraded spaces and better service our customers. Services will be kept local – the strategy has been developed with the community at heart,” says Mr Aitken.
The strategy was presented to the council’s elected members at a Finance and Performance Committee briefing in August last year. Local boards are being consulted about the location of future services in their areas, and then approval will be sought from the council’s Finance and Performance committee in April.
So no closure but there will be consolidation via relocation with both back office and front line services.
As I understand it front line services will still be local bases but utilising places like existing Local Board offices and libraries that are publicly accessible in the first place. I see hot-desking was mentioned and I have queries around this in how it works at the local level.
Back-office functions being relocated and consolidated to where the Nodes will be located under the Auckland Plan 2050 makes sense. I have written more on the Nodes and how they will function here: #AucklandPlan2050: NODES! Or Rather Auckland Becoming a Multi-Nodal City.
From the Auckland Plan:
How Auckland will grow and change – a quality compact approach
A compact Auckland means future development will be focused in existing and new urban areas within Auckland’s urban footprint, limiting expansion into the rural hinterland.
By 2050, most growth will have occurred within this urban footprint, particularly focused in and around:
- the city centre
- the Albany node
- the Westgate node
- the Manukau node
- identified development areas
- future urban areas.
What quality means
The quality aspect of this approach means that:
- most development occurs in areas that are easily accessible by public transport, walking and cycling
- most development is within reasonable walking distance of services and facilities including centres, community facilities, employment opportunities and open space
- future development maximises efficient use of land
- delivery of necessary infrastructure is coordinated to support growth in the right place at the right time.
What compact means
The compact aspect of this approach means that:
- Future development will be focused within Auckland’s urban footprint, with most of that growth occurring in existing urban areas.
- By 2050, most growth will have occurred within this urban footprint, limiting both expansion into the rural hinterland and rural land fragmentation.
This approach contributes to investment certainty by understanding where and when growth is likely to occur.
The benefits of a quality compact Auckland
The benefits of a quality compact approach to growth and development are:
- greater productivity and economic growth – a compact urban form produces increased economic productivity from the greater proximity between firms, workers and consumers
- better use of existing infrastructure – growing within existing urban areas makes more efficient use of existing assets. Providing physical and social infrastructure costs less per household, which results in a higher overall level of service
- improved transport outcomes – a compact urban form brings more people closer to their place of work. Greater population density supports faster, more frequent public transport services. Both reduce congestion on the road network and create a more efficient transport network overall
- rural productivity and character can be maintained – encouraging growth within urban areas helps to protect rural environments from urban encroachment, and maintain the productive capability of the land and its rural character
- enhanced environmental outcomes – adverse effects of urban activities are concentrated into fewer receiving environments. Growth creates more opportunities for environmental enhancement, particularly as part of infrastructure upgrades
- great social and cultural vitality – concentrating activity into urban centres and neighbourhoods provides a wider variety of activities to meet the full range of people’s needs. This brings diversity and vibrancy into the urban environment which in turn enhances interaction and social cohesion.
How this will be achieved
The quality compact approach to future development will be achieved by:
- enabling sufficient capacity for growth across Auckland
- embedding good design in all development
- sequencing what gets delivered
- aligning the timing of infrastructure provision with development.
With the concentration of activity around the Nodes through the Auckland Plan 2050 having back office function of Council consolidated to where the Node Centres are (City Centre, Westgate, Manukau and Albany(?)) would spark economies of scale and efficiencies between the departments (the agglomeration bonus).
So completely understandable what Council is trying to do and fully support it as it ties into the Auckland Plan 2050 – Multi Nodal City approach. Perhaps if anything comms from Council could be improved here walking the citizens through what is happening exactly.