Tag: Ben Ross

A Letter from A Councillor

Councillor George Wood Writes to Manukau Courier

 

While checking my Facebook feed in the morning (as you do) I noticed a comment from former Manurewa Local Board Chair:

 

That got me looking and I discovered this:

 

Basically Councillor George Wood spelling it out as it is with public transport issues down here in South Auckland – especially with buses (an area admittedly I am not paying much issue to but should very well be).

I agree with the entire letter from the Councillor to the point I will be throwing more resources or rather effort here at BR:AKL on our bus issues and getting them sorted.

 

However Newman was “fuming” because the Southern Initiative got mentioned and the bad onus around that. Yes the Southern Initiative has had its rather ugly moments in either rough-shodding over the Local Boards or budget re-routing away from Local Boards to Southern Initiative projects that are overseen by the main governing body.

The focus from the letter should be on our transport here in South Auckland, not dragging the Southern Initiative into this as that is another debate along with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.

Also I have seen no oppositional Councillor nor mayoral candidate state they would overthrow the Southern Initiative after the 2013 elections and put in place an alternative. I believe it is the case of we are lugged with it – let’s try and make this work best we can – as rough-shodding by Council Officers, CCOs, and the Governing Body happens right across the spectrum – not just the Southern Initiative.

My comment to Newman makes somewhat that point:

Ben Ross

Burnt from the Budget (which burnt the entire city any how) I still see.

That aside – well something must being going on as 2012 was a mixed year for success and failures in dealing with the Governing Body from personal experience (that is the Governing Body not the CCOs).

Failures: The Auckland Plan in part but more so the Long Term Plan. The new Rubbish Policy.

Successes: Irony would have it this has been down the transport division:- Manukau South Link, Pukekohe Electrification Extension, cant comment with the RPTP yet as the hearing is still coming up, slow progress with the bus situation down south – but least its moving.

Next Challenge: Again transport, however Alcohol Policies with the new Act in position

So “bringing them to the Governing Body” has had its moments of success and failures -( for a scrappy little ratepayer  ) – but that is to be expected. 2013 is going to bring?…

 

A case of win-some, you lose-some. But you continue to battle on in pushing or lobbying for what you want to see to make Auckland a better place – the purpose behind this blog from day one.

 

BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND

Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
AND
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL

 

 

 

2012 in review

In Review:

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 25,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Leadership and the CRL

Stepping Up (Inadvertently) To Lead from the Front?

On A Mega-Project

 

 

It is becoming apparent that the Local Government Elections in Auckland are going to be fought over these three main topics:

  1. City Rail Link
  2. Rates and Local Service Provisions (funding local services)
  3. The Unitary Plan if The Council’s Draft Unitary Plan turns out to be a stinker

 

However at the moment the main focus seems to be on the City Rail Link after a leaked report from the Mayor’s Office and subsequent debate. This focus on the CRL seems to have factions drawing their line in the sand as they stand their ground on whether they are; for the CRL (in any form), against the CRL, or just plan fence-sitting (Councillor Cameron Brewer’s favourite position currently). However what is failing from our incumbent Councillors and the Mayor is actual leadership on the City Rail Link debate – which is not helping the ratepayer at all!

Let me show a long Facebook thread from Councillor George Wood on the CRL – and also to the fact I have been mentioned for the umpteenth time on this matter in the past 10 days:

  • Auckland CRL rail tunnel project funding in the spotlight. Excellent interview by Larry Williams of David Thornton No MoreRates.
    No Title (click on link for interview)

    content.radionetwork.co.nz

    • George Wood I hope that you have read this Treasury report Ben Ross. It goes along with what Dick Quax,Cameron Brewer and I have been saying about the lack of clarity around the current Auckland Council infrastructure budgets.
    • Simon Prast George, do you accept that the population of Auckland is going to rapidly expand?
    • Bob Murphy Not if the rates keep increasing Simon.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn would think Bob population of Auck will increase if rates go up, peeps won,t go out at night, and to cut down on power go to bed early, leave this one up to your imagination.
      Ian Wood so the population of those too poor to leave will go up…
      • Bob Murphy If they go to bed early there could quite possibly be a rapid increase in population.
    • Bob Murphy What are you on about Natalie? Don’t understand your point.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn why do we want to leave, we just have to get it right here, remember those on low incomes, and elderly, This is our homes our Country,
    • Bob Murphy I remember them alright Natalie, I am one of them.
      Natalie Bray-Gunn Simon said did u accept population for auck going to rapidly expand, and u said not if rates keep increasing, if people broke they stay home don,t go out, and cut down power etc, and go to bed, so then population increases so they can pay bills.
      • Natalie Bray-Gunn so am I, underpaid and overworked, and 6l, so keep on with my job, and watch people hired in my firm and paid under counter,at times, maybe they need to check out peeps from other countries and the students they hire, and up the coffers.
      • Bob Murphy You look good for 61.
    • Bob Murphy I think that the point is if the rates keep in increasing nobody will come and live in Auckland and people will move out to places where the rates and house prices are cheaper.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn isn.t that our retirement dream, think even owning a house a full on dream for most young ones these days.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn there are always peeps from othr countries rich enough to buy business,s and houses in Auck…
    • Bob Murphy Hence the point that Auckland is going to price itself off the market if it keeps going on like it is.
    • Natalie Bray-Gunn not Auckland , just for our kids…
    • Bob Murphy My kids have gone to Aussie.
    • Bob Murphy They are doing OK, and the weather is better when we visit them.
    • Ben Ross I would not bother paying attention to a report out of Treasury. If those Boffins can not even get commentary on the Economy correct for the last oh I don’t know 25 years then their report from their infrastructure will be just as incorrect.

      I also suspect being from Treasury it is partisan and highly political knowing Treasury’s often actual far-right tendencies. Heck Bi-Partisan does not even in their dictionary but at least it is in the USA and the Republicans know and how to act Bi-partisan.

      So political, doing as their master the Minister of Finance says or wants to hear (and dont give me that independence rot either…), can not even get the economy commentary correct, partisan, stale and unoriginal in thinking since 1987. That makes it not even worth the pdf it was saved to as a file and certainly not worth my time reading currently or in the future (I would trust a report from the IMF on our infrastructure over Treasury).

      Clutching at straws from the Centre-Right and possibly embarrassing if Council either remains Centre-Left or lurches to the Centre at next years elections.

      Least some of us don’t wait for door stops produced out of Wellington (nor from the Mayor’s Office from that matter either) and actually are conducting private unpaid research into getting the CRL going using thinking outside of the square and knowing full well getting it wrong will bankrupt the city. Private and unpaid research that will be taken into the elections next year for voters to decide…

      Bring on 2013

      And for those looking for my stance on the CRL here it is https://voakl.net/2012/11/27/me-and-the-city-rail-link/

      With this bit on funding:
      Funding wise I believe we as a city can achieve a three-way split between the Council, Central Government and the private sector. Those new stations will attract urban development and investment around them so I am pondering on leasing out air and sky rights, as well as resident and commercial development within and on-top of the stations to help generate returns for the CRL. I am aware in Tokyo such a thing happens with large malls, office and/or residential towers built above the stations by the Rail Company, thus “operated” by the rail company, leased out to the private sector by the rail company, thus generate returns on investment for the rail company! So what we need to do is be rather savvy with the planning, discussion and funding of this critical mega project – something which this current council is not (savvy that is (the word stale being operative here).

      voakl.net

      Where I Stand on the City Rail Link   A couple of days ago I posted my stance on…See More
    • Dick Quax Auckland’s population growth is not that rapid nor is its economic growth particularly stellar. Those cities that are doing well have low taxes (rates) and plently of land available for development.
      Like · Reply ·

    • William McGrath Actually, it is growing, and looking down Queen Street at the amount of traffic from people getting to/from work and leisure on all modes of transport shows this. You can’t ignore the growing problem in our Central City forever, George and Dick. We need the CRL. We need Central Government assistance from it, and we need solid strategies for funding it. All you two do is whinge and don’t suggest anything to solve the problem at hand. If you want to get votes next year, start considering solutions. At least Len’s thinking!
      • Millie Liang Hi William. I work all around the cbd every day and from what I see and hear from property owners and retailers they are finding it tougher and tougher to survive. More and more retailers are on monthly rentals and heading to the suburbs where rents and parking is much easier. Evey city in the world has congestion problems never mind how many zillions are thrown at the problem. Look at any major city in China where they have thrown billions at it or just across to Sydney. As for more people in the city, I would suggest the 1,000 -1,600 people that walk past some of my clients retail shops is made up of international students who have no intention of buying except fast food. You just have to sit outside some Queen St shops (besides fast food outlets) and do the numbers as to whether retailers are making ends meet and wonder how long they can hold on or their leases are up for renewal. As for Council pr spin that say this area or that area after street scape/road paving upgrades has 30-40 increase in patronage, I would strongly suggest it is simply dragging customers from other areas, like High St, Aotea Sq etc prescients. Wait to the seismic upgrade of buildings in the cbd kicks in and you might find the Council offers free parking in the cbd to get people into the area to justify the millions being spent.. From just 2 yrs ago the cbd retail/office market has completely changed… There will always be people wanting cbd retail space believing they have a better product/marketing plan etc. If in fact their are more people coming into in the cbd why aren’t they spending and why are retail shops down the bottom of town vacant and retailers climbing over each other to get into Princess wharf,Wynyard Quarter. To get Britomart going the majority of retailers were/are being enticed out of High St etc leaving a vacuum.
    • Dick Quax Most of the growth is occuring in the outer suburbs not on the CBD, 87% of the employment is outside the CBD. So the solution is a more flexible PT system fit for 21st century use not 19th century technology. Just because other solutions don’t match yours don’t dismiss them out of hand.
      George Wood This latest Treasury report will be an interesting discussion tomorrow Dick.
      • Millie Liang The amount of clients I have in the cbd who want to sell their biz/assign leases before they loose everything is a worrying trend. It simply isn’t commercially viable for a large number of them.
      • Ben Ross I’ll be brief, the car is also 19th century technology as well so like to come again with that argument Councillor?
    • William McGrath Dick, so far, neither you or George have come up with those 21st century solutions? You have not shown the Auckland people a viable alternative to the City Rail Link. Until then, you’re argument is invalid.
    • George Wood Get real William. In our democratic system of justice he who asserts or affirm must prove. It is about time the mayor and has team of CRL tunnel promoters came up with the evidence. It seems they are basing their case on a wild hunch right now.
    • Millie Liang Hopefully the Mayor has read how tough Aus is doing it and the $AUS 32 billion budget blowout and the article today in the Sydney Morning Herald on what Gerry Norman has to say where their retail sector is heading.. and hopefully the mayor is having a …See More

      www.smh.com.au

      HARVEY Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey says industry conditions remain di…See More
    • Ben Ross Harvey got caught out from an obselete business model. However point is taken from the SMH article. We need our leaders to talk up otherwise we get a self fulfilling prophersey
    • Ben Ross And Councillor Quax, I can tell you dont read submissions much otherwise you would of noticed me pushing for the Eastern Highway in the Auckland Plan…
    • Dick Quax Eastern Highway is that in NZ?
    • Ben Ross The very highway connecting your Ward with Councillors Brewer and Lee while defeating Banks in 2004 (sadly)
    • Dick Quax oh the eastern corridor now known as ameti. It was never intended to be a “highway” but a multi modal transport corridor to accommodate buses, trains, walking, cycling and private cars. And I was staunch supporter of that project
    • Ben Ross I know you were Councillor. I was annoyed greatly that the Eastern Corridor never went ahead back then as it could of all been completed by now relieving the pressure on the Eastern Suburbs. Although do you still support the corridor today including what is now known as the Botany (rail) Line
    • Mark Donnelly George/Dick – is the CRL actually a project? If it is give Len Brown a map and ask him where the trains go / circulate etc. What max timetable is, and actual capacity before and after CRL. Govt/AT papers only show a rise from 29,000 to 36,000 or so into CBD.
      Western line suffers major disruption under CRL with 40% not going through to Grafton/Newmarket.
      Until someone actually lays out what the project actually is, it’s just a nonsense. It’s like the political interference which saw Parnell station, which slowed Britomart turnaround from 4min to 6 min!
    • Ben Ross By the way George, out of pure interest any reason I got mentioned/flagged? Just interested that’s all – as it is not like I am running for mayor here (folks)
    • George Wood Just responding to an earlier comment that you made on in another FB article Ben Ross.
    • Ben Ross All good

 

Here is another thread from Councillor Brewer in regards to the Minister of Transport and the CRL:

Labour’s Phil Twyford got bounced in Question Time today by the Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee on the City Rail Link who made it absolutely clear that he stands by his earlier comments that he takes big issue to the suggestion that the project is either useful or popular.
The senior minister went on to say for “around $1 million per metre” (where have I heard that phrase?) the tunneling project “will do so little”, and he slammed the latest Horizon Poll which claimed 64% of Aucklanders support the CRL.
Meanwhile, on another planet (Auckland Council) at exactly the same time, $73m was transferred into its 2013/14 CAPEX budget for the CRL, taking next year’s spend ALONE on the project to $1/4 billion!!

  • Michael Myles Murphy Yes I watched a little of the house today, it amazes me that anyone would vote for these clowns and that is both sides of the house. The downfall of democracy as I have often said this country is an asylum with the lunatics running the place, the only one who shows any decorum is Lockwood Smith.
  • Michael Myles Murphy By the way you people south of the bridge Keep your Crap.
  • Ben Ross A bugger that C&R and the Centre Right Independents on Council are fractured and can not give a unified position on the CRL (I can provide links if one wishes quite happily) leaving their flank exposed. And especially leaving their flank exposed relying on an obsolete Minister of Transport from an obsolete time, running an obsolete agenda from an obsolete ideology 60 years ago thus having obsolete thoughts, and unoriginal ideas, and thinking.

    Don’t under-estimate the City’s desires either as it looks for true vision and leadership. Something the Minister can not offer for pies, and something the Centre-Right lost in 2010 and seems to have still lost and something this current Council is losing fast…

    Time for that Broom stick

 

What I am pointing at is that the old guard currently in power (and having baggage to boot) are pretty entrenched in their ways and narrow thinking and mindset about the CRL (whether advancing it or abandoning it) and are not really looking at new creative ways to either advance the project, or propose a viable alternative if against the project. Thus folks Auckland is in serious trouble indeed.

 

Now as a promise to a fellow ratepayer in Papakura, I am trying not to sensationalise the issue there – as the old guard does that pretty well indeed.

 

So while the old guard gets stuck the mud, you often find others will rise to the challenge and begin to show a new leadership to advance a project forward. Creative, outside-the-square thinking, or just a fresh set of eyes and mind is often needed and I believe in the case of the City Rail Link that is the case.

 

Look I’ll be straight and frank, I am going to rise to that challenge and try to lead a new path in advancing the CRL. As I have stated in my “Me and The City Rail Link” post (as part of my fundamental in transport: An Integrated Approach to Transport: None of this “all for one but not the other approach” we get from both roading and Green lobbyists. Road and Mass Transit both have their places here in Auckland – albeit more balanced like the Generation Zero 50:50 campaign):

I support the City Rail Link being built but under a different time frame and development process than what the Mayor proposes.

Funding wise I believe we as a city can achieve a three-way split between the Council, Central Government and the private sector. Those new stations will attract urban development and investment around them so I am pondering on leasing out air and sky rights, as well as resident and commercial development within and on-top of the stations to help generate returns for the CRL. I am aware in Tokyo such a thing happens with large malls, office and/or residential towers built above the stations by the Rail Company, thus “operated” by the rail company, leased out to the private sector by the rail company, thus generate returns on investment for the rail company! So what we need to do is be rather savvy with the planning, discussion and funding of this critical mega project – something which this current council is not (savvy that is (the word stale being operative here).

 

And when you see other bloggers out there blog material like this: “300 Queen St: The Perfect Future Transit Station – By Patrick Reynolds, on November 29th, 2012″ on the potential of the City Rail Link, subsequent urban development, and the actual potential to expand the rail transit system to more Aucklanders  you know you can feel confident there are others out there wanting to advance a very critical mega project and often have similar thinking as yourself.

Patrick’s post is a post one would use (with his permission and full referencing of course) as “supporting material” to help show others the true benefits of the CRL – something the old guard just can not grasp.

 

 

Passion, determination and patience is needed to bring this mega-project to fruition. And by the looks of it, new blood and thinking is also going to be injected into Council to see this “killer app” (as someone said elsewhere) through to the end – For a Better Auckland.

All material and commentary on the City Rail Link Debate written by me at BR:AKL can be found from the City Rail Link Debate category.

The Achilles Heel of C&R

Is Communities and Residents (C&R) Actually Unified?

 

&

 

Does C&R comprehend Public Good and see beyond the pure monetary side in a Public Good?

 

When the CRL debate popped up thanks to Bernard Orsman AND THAT POLL, I decided to go ask a nice simple question to Auckland’s centre-right local body organisation ‘Communities and Residents’ (C&R) in both Facebook and Twitter. This was the answer from Twitter:

By the way, has @CandRAuckland passed a resolution or motion yet on either supporting or being FULLY against the Auckland City Rail Link?

7hC&RTiny Klout Flag20C&R ‏@CandRAuckland

@BenRoss_AKL C&R supports CRL designation, but wants an effective funding options/value/timing discussion with all key parties

 

Same answer I got in the THE CRL AND THAT POLL CTD thread from Orakei Local Board Deputy Chair Mark Thomas. So that is all fine and a policy statement I would be inclined to follow providing the CRL started construction around 2018 (rather than 2015 as the mayor is pushing). However move to another rail project like the recently announced Pukekohe Electrification business case and that unification from C&R seems to fall apart rather quickly. To make things more interesting, it seems I might have exposed an Achilles heel from C&R in regards to public transport in Auckland and the cost/benefit situation:

 

I have asked C&R for their view-point on Pukekohe Electrification to which I will post as soon as I get it. But now check this Facebook thread in regards to the electrification extension:

  • Another pipe dream from Mayor Brown and his supporters. We can’t keep putting things on the tab. Interested to hear from my colleagues Dick Quax and Cameron Brewer.

    Pukekohe train plan

    http://www.stuff.co.nz

    Electric trains could run to Pukekohe if Auckland Council approves a $102 million upgrade to electrify the line past Papakura.
    • Bob Murphy Don’t worry about your colleagues, worry about your constituents George Wood!!!!
    • George Wood OK Robert Bob Murphy, point taken. Just thought that Dick and Cameron could add their views.
    • Ben Ross I would be very careful going into opposition over the Pukekohe electrification extension. The project has a BCR of 2.1 which is higher than probably just about all (bar one) of National’s Roads of National Significance projects COMBINED.

      Further more the project which needs $80m can easily be covered with targeted rates and development levies over 15 years to cover the loan. 

      And last I looked Papakura and Franklin Wards (to which Pukekohe resides) are both under Centre Right councillors (even though Cllr Des Morrison has “quit” C&R). Those two Councillors would be fast backing the electrification projects unless they wanted to willing feel the wraith of their constituents to the point being tipped out by a Centre Left candidate who supports the electrification extension project
    • Bob Murphy When are we going to get the North Shore rail connection?
    • Daniel Sloan We should electrify the road. Why give rail a monopoly?
      • Ben Ross fried pedestrian – toasty 😛:P
    • George Wood Can’t see this happening too soon. Saw a metro system that was struggling in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This is a city of 2.6 million and they badly overestimated the patronage they would achieve. Auckland is only getting 10 million on the rail per annum.
      • Ben Ross And as Campaign for Better Transport shows time and time again we under-estimate ours often badly. Onehunga being one – although Manukau was the reverse that can be easily fixed with The South Link
    • George Wood Can you see rail breaking even financially any-time in the future Ben Ross?
      • Ben Ross Dual question. Freight rail yes I can if Mainfreight and Fontera could run their own freight train services on the rail lines. As for passenger rail, I do not expect it to monetary wise as it is a public good that provides greater profits in the social and economic front than the pure monetary front – something Public Bodies and representatives miss
    • Scott Bovaird I’ve given up arguing against George it must break even philosophy
    • George Wood Why is that Scott Bovaird. Can’t we have fair and balanced debate?
    • Scott Bovaird Hahahah I think we sit on complete opposite sides of the fence. Also feels like you won’t acknowledge that there is more to public transport beyond will it pay for itself. Also you don’t need to convince me to tick your name next year
      • Ben Ross yet 😉;-)
      • Scott Bovaird you’ll never convince me to live on the shore ben,
      • Bob Murphy If George stands for mayor you will get your chance Scott.
      • Scott Bovaird well if ya look below if george aligns himself with people like dick I’ll be doing everything to help other candidates
      • Ben Ross Sorry not running for mayor next year – value my sanity too much while I am still young :p:p
    • Dick Quax George I get accused of being anti PT which I’m not – use it quite a bit – however do get grumpy when I see how much public money just keeps on being poured into a 19th century technology – rail – to solve a 21st century transport problem.

      Scott Bovaird Im yet to see a reasonably legitimate alternative proposed dick. Until someone presents a business case that actually looks better than improving out rail system and then encouraging people to live near it your always going to be seen as anti PT
    • Dick Quax “Encourage people to live near rail” – just how do you do that – deal with reality not some fantasy planet which no one inhabits.
    • Scott Bovaird Ahhhh insulting my intelligence instead of actually dealing with the issues. … glad to see you’re a respectable representative of our community. Congratulations Dick you have reaffirmed my belief in why I would never vote cnr and will encourage everyone I possibly can to vote against you as well.
      • Ben Ross Not affiliated – just saying 😮:o
      • Scott Bovaird hahaha I would be distancing myself as much as possible ben cause I’m now in a very motivated place
      • Ben Ross An Independent Average Ratepayers’ View Shinning The Light at Issues in Auckland into the 2013 Local Government Elections
        Auckland YOUR CITY YOUR CALL

        Emphasis on independent 😮:o
    • Kane Glass It goes by the name of Planet Planet Rail
    • Scott Bovaird Also this is probably why you Franklin member of cnr quit because you don’t give a hoot about south of Manukau
    • Millie Liang Gentlemen.. Maybe I aren’t thinking straight..If everyone is worried about overcrowding and having to demolish 50-80k of houses in the city in the near future to accommodate everyone why do they want to spend large amounts of money on rail tracks from say Pukekohe/Helensville into the cbd….It just I remember the disaster that has unfolded at the Newmarket station square when all the pr 4-5yrs ago said there was going to be within 5-10yrs, 17,000 train passengers using the station everyday with trains capable of arriving every three mins….At the time I thought this must only be pr purposes to get funding as there was no way there that many people going to get off in Newmarket unless a city was going to be built at the end of a line, and then why head into the city any way…just my thoughts.

 

The dis-unity within C&R could very well extend from this article published in the Herald a couple of days ago:

Councillor quits ‘too urban’ C&R

By Bernard Orsman

Auckland councillor Des Morrison has resigned from Communities & Residents, saying the right-leaning ticket is too urban-centric and he wants to focus on rural issues before retiring at next year’s local elections.

“I’m not as close to C&R as I was,” said Mr Morrison, the Franklin councillor and chairman of the rural advisory panel.

He said he was still working with C&R but wanted to use his last year to focus on key issues for the rural sector.

The resignation of Mr Morrison, a popular figure on the council, is a blow for C&R, which has struggled since the first Super City elections, winning only five seats on the 20-strong Auckland Council.

The resignation of Mr Morrison highlights the failure of C&R to work with right-leaning independents, such as Cameron Brewer, Calum Penrose and Sharon Stewart, to build a united opposition against Mayor Len Brown’s left-leaning majority.

 

Hmm problems behind the scenes? Again check my THE CRL AND THAT POLL CTD thread as Bernard and I probe C&R on the CRL for responses and history.

 

However the Achilles Heel of C&R was exposed in the Facebook thread which I placed in bold:

  • George Wood Can you see rail breaking even financially any-time in the future Ben Ross?
    • Ben Ross Dual question. Freight rail yes I can if Mainfreight and Fontera could run their own freight train services on the rail lines. As for passenger rail, I do not expect it to monetary wise as it is a public good that provides greater profits in the social and economic front than the pure monetary front – something Public Bodies and representatives miss
  • Scott Bovaird I’ve given up arguing against George it must break even philosophy

 

Okay there is a difference between flushing money down the loo and subsidising a public good such as public transport – especially as I mentioned the wider economic and social benefits often outstrip the pure monetary cost!

 

Electrification to Pukekohe, the Manukau South Link and the City Rail Link are three public transport projects that provide wider and larger economic and social benefits in comparison to pure monetary cost (often expressed in capital to build and then the operating cost to run the thing). While the central government’s Roads of National Significance defy basically everything including monetary cost.

 

So the question ratepayers must ask to Council and Local Board candidates next year when it comes to projects that will crop up in the debate: While a program loses on the pure monetary front (such as public transport), does the program’s economic and social benefits outweigh that monetary loss?

 

There is more to programs than dollars and cents folks, and C&R could be exposed on that front especially if Pukekohe Electrification is anything to go by!

 

 

Now I wonder if C&R will respond to this? I’ll wait and see :O

Local Board Service Provisions Falter

Local Boards Starved of Needed Cash – So Another Way to Provide Local Services?

 

Just recently Manurewa Local Board Chair – Angela Dalton posted some rather sad pictures on the state of affairs in regards to maintenance to civic places like parks and berms in Manurewa. I’ll let the photos do the talking here:

 

Now after Angela had posted the photos, the Council contractor raced out with the mowers to err trim the grass – and leave it all behind (which would have made great hay for my chickens) (oh and miss the edges too). However as the Manurewa and Papakura Local Boards will attest to, service provisions for these Local Boards from the main Council and its contractors who look after civic places has basically fallen off a cliff. And these Local Board Service Provision stories I keep seeing on Facebook due to either Local Boards facing cuts in their budgets to fund provisions or services, or super city amalgamation being a catalyst to decrease in either services or quality of services are appearing time and time again.

 

So the question is ‘what on earth is going on here?’ Why are our Local Boards being hurt with inadequate service provisions and ratepayers/communities having to suffer from reduced service levels from Auckland Council. Last month I ran a post (AN INVESTIGATION) highlighting the discussion about rates and service provisions to our local communities.

I had basically said that we need to look at how we fund things, how we fund the Local Boards, and how the Local Boards should be properly resourced to provide adequate service provisions for their communities. An example of what I said was:

Just a refresher (just in case) Bulk Funding the Local Boards goes like this. Orakei currently pays $106m in rates to the “Council” yet “Council” only gives $10m (about 10%) back to Orakei to run its Local Board and services. The proposal I am running with is Orakei pays $106m to “Council” and Council gives back (and that is a must, no if’s buts or maybes) 25-33% (up to Local Board’s decision on level) back to Orakei so Orakei can run and maintain its Local Community Services, Events plus any CAPEX spending as it sees fit (of course with dialogue with its residents and businesses).

The Governing Body can not touch the 33% as it is ring fenced to Local Boards. This also includes the Governing Body unable to hike the rates beyond 1.6x the rate of inflation at max with all spending spelled out per the current Better Local Government MK II Bill/Act/Paper

You can read the rest of that post by clicking HERE.

 

After I posted the “An Investigation” post, Botany National MP – Jami-Lee Ross posted and kicked off this discussion with me about Local Board funding and service provisions”

 

Rates Due to Hike Again – So Time for An Investigation

Okay, some idiot in Council mentioned rates and rates rises again giving the hapless ratepayer a sour stomach as we approach Summer and the Silly Season (although for Council, it is always the Silly Season with the Ratepayer Credit Card). Here is a piece from Councillor Cameron Brewer via Facebook with all the comments below (I am pasting this to draw context on where I am going with this):

 

  • Andy Cawston likes this.
  • Jami-Lee Ross In my view, the simplest way to fund local services would be as follows:
    1) have a clear definition of what is local and what is regional
    2) everything regional is funded from a general rate set by governing body. They are accountable for it. 
    3) everything local is funded from a local services targeted rate, funded from within that ward and kept within that ward. Local board set this targeted rate and are accountable for it. No cross subsidisation on local projects. Complete control for local boards when it comes to local issues. High spending local boards can spend whatever they want. Frugal local boards can likewise do so and not see their savings going back into the general pool.

    This model would ring-fence local funding for local initiatives, but would still see regional infrastructures and services funded. It would empower local boards much more as well as demand greater accountability.
  • Ben Ross You and I are on the exact same page here Jami-Leein regards to your comment 😀:D Now then can we do such a thing or do we need you guys (Central Govt) to a legislation change?
  • Jami-Lee Ross Auckland can do that by itself. It would just require discipline and a willingness by the governing body.
  • Ben Ross Okay so in other words a great amount of difficulty then 😛:P if you know what I mean
  • Jami-Lee Ross Im not sure we are on the same page – bulk funding as you describe it would see the governing body still in control of the level of funding to local boards. I would suggest LBs decide themselves and be accountable for it. If LB-A wants to ramp local rates up by 25%, they should be able to, but have to fund that from within their own local board area. If LB-B wants to have a 25% cut in local rates, they should also be able to, but have to find the saving within their own area.
  • Ben Ross Okay a similar page then but none the less ideas that can be worked on. We are both wanting similar outcomes just at this point in time different ways in achieving it. Although I am sure we can flesh out points and build a solid idea/proposal/case
  • Jami-Lee Ross It’s all academic anyway. Chances of seeing the governing body give up some power is near zero.
  • Ben Ross Sadly yes

A good discussion of ideas there about Local Board funding and service provisions. And a (mature) discussion to be honest and frank we as a community and a city need to have.

I’ll tell you what, I will go look into these ideas some more and get back to you. However I am willing to run in my election to Papakura Local Board next year stating that; If elected to Papakura Local Board 2013, I will advocate and push for a full and frank discussion with the residents and businesses inside the Papakura Local Board area on Local Board Funding and Service Provision. Do you want the status quo as currently; or do you want something like bulk funding and increased “power” over your Local Board service provisions whether it be the method I suggest OR the method Jami-Lee Ross suggested. Which ever option you chose will be the option pushed to lobby the main Council/Governing Body!

Just a quick note though, the wheels of the governing body and bureaucracy turn slow. So even if and when the discussion began, it will take some time to push the governing body and bureaucracy to change and adopt the provisions you want for your community. Patience would be the key thing here, something even I need and have to persevere with as we go through the motions with the Manukau South Link.

 

Service provisions for our Local Boards funded or provided by the main Council is a sore point with local residents, businesses, communities and Local Boards. Alternatives are being searched for and once found should be presented to the local community/communities for their input and discussion. At the end of the day it is the local that gets stuck with how and what local service provisions are provided and funded for – whether it be from the main Council or via bulk funding. I am ready to have that robust discussion for a Better Papakura and Better Auckland – are you?