Tag: Todd Niall

Council Cutting the Spin

Well reductions in the Communications, PR and Marketing Department

 

In the continued drive for efficiencies and cost control (despite an OPEX surplus at $212 million on the last set of audited figures) the Marketing Department is next up on the blocks (after Planning) for the “review.”

From Radio NZ and Todd Niall

Auckland Council cuts marketing budget

Updated at 6:56 am today

 

The council has cut 38 jobs and brought more work in-house to save $4.3 million this year, and slightly more after that.

The spending on communications and marketing will fall to nearly $8.5 million.

The council said work has been centralised, and around $1.5 million saved through less outsourcing.

The re-structuring of communications and marketing is the largest cut from a series of reviews that have been underway. It has made 109 other staff redundant over the past year.

A larger review is nearly complete in the chief planning officer’s department which employs 538 staff.

Auckland Council has gone on the front foot, announcing the cuts in communications and marketing, 10 days before it unveils the first version of its proposed 10 year budget.

While there is no direct link between the two, the council is keen to portray itself as being rigorous with internal spending, before beginning debate on how much should be spent around the city.

The council has lifted its target for efficiency savings to $240 million a year, as it begins the task of setting the 10-year budget, called the Long Term Plan.

That may bring new charges for Aucklanders and a multi-billion dollar cut over the next decade, to the previously-forecast level of spending on new assets.

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Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/252342/auckland-council-cuts-marketing-budget

 

You can hear report Todd Niall’s take on here:

 

I will be interesting to see what has happened to the Planning Department after their review. We shall know the results next month.

 

Has the Public Lost Interest in the Council?

Numbers suggest not

 

I noted yesterday that Councillor Cameron Brewer (surprise – surprise) released an “opinion” on the public losing interest with Auckland Council. The actual question is ‘has the public actually lost interest?’ I would say no and even Radio new Zealand’s Todd Niall would say no in his written correspondence earlier this week.

 

Lets take a look at what Councillor Brewer is saying this time.

From Voxy:

Opinion: Public lose interest in Auckland Council

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014 – 14:40

By Cameron Brewer, Auckland Councillor

The second term Auckland Council is proving to be an interesting one and very different to the inaugural 2010 – 2013 Governing Body.

We are currently going through a budget round to lock in where council’s $3b expenditure is directed for the forthcoming 2014/15 financial year.

This year we had fewer than 2,000 written submissions from the public on our Draft Annual Plan with only a few dozen turning up to speak to their submissions. The Mayor takes this as a vote of confidence in the council, but I take a different view.

My view is that the public interest in this council is at an all-time low because Aucklanders are increasingly of the view that this term is a bit of a lost cause, a bit of a political basket case. The Mayor has hung on to his political career but has lost a lot of political capital. Whatever your view on that, this is bad for Auckland.

….

Todd Niall and myself have already commented on the low Annual Plan submission count and why it was that low. You can see my own commentary behind to low submission count (which includes extract’s from Todd’s analysis) here: “Todd Niall Hits the Budget Nail on its Head.”

From that commentary piece:

To be honest I can see why both the Annual Plan submission count is very low and how most submissions were pertaining to local rather than regional issues. For the low submission count the Annual Plan submissions were called for during the final weeks of the massive Unitary Plan submission period. With limited time and resources available a conscious call might have been made on which of the two submissions you would pick to get done. Is it the Annual Plan or is it the Unitary Plan? I made such a conscious decision and chose the Unitary Plan over the Annual Plan to dedicate my submission time to – so as a result no submission from me on the Annual Plan this round.

What also factored into not doing an Annual Plan submission this round was the knowledge knowing the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan (the main Council budget document) is coming up for debate soon. Something again Todd Niall points out…

Maybe that’s why Aucklanders have turned out in such low numbers to have their say on this year’s annual plan. They know that far bigger debates lie ahead.

Source: https://voakl.net/2014/04/15/todd-niall-hits-the-budget-nail-on-its-head/

Again I would say that is why the submission count is low not because we have lost interest but rather we had the Unitary Plan at the same time as well as knowing those bigger more important debates ahead (like the Long Term Plan).

The Unitary Plan submission count (at 8,900 as of the beginning of the month) I would say is a testimony to Auckland paying interest into what Council is doing. Of course we have the next Unitary Plan submission round late next month where anyone can submit on the points previously made (so no new material). Also if you are like me you are taking a break between all these big submission and consultation periods unless you want to burn yourself out from it all.

 

Continuing from Voxy

The lack of interest and coverage shows that the public and media have effectively given up on this term, with 2016 set to be a watershed election.

One thing’s for sure the third term will be just as different again with a new Mayor and many new councillors after a whole new public mandate and direction sought and secured.

….

Be very careful what you wish for Councillor. I can assure you the public and media (both Main Stream, and Social) have certainly not given up on this term. That said I do believe and agree that the third term will be quite different with new Councillors including a possible replacement for Orakei Ward too 😉 .

 

Finally:

In the meantime all councillors are committed to making a difference. For me it means keeping the Mayor accountable and focusing on the likes of fighting for lower rates increases and pushing for more sustainable debt levels. I will also continue to advocate for regional funding for projects in the Orakei ward area.

….

Groan…

Local Boards I thought would be the best advocates for getting funding for projects in their local area while ward Councillors are meant to be focusing on the big picture regional stuff. Or did Cameron not read this: Slow News Day. We Have the Bigger Picture to Focus On

 

Oh well I suppose the above was expected from Councillor Brewer.

In the mean time this storm outside is causing enough havoc as is – although I still have mains power in Papakura for now

 

Stay safe out there folks and keep listening to updates from Civil Defence please.