Auckland

Once again Len’s council tells us we should shut up, they know best

You know Auckland Council thinks it can do things better than anyone else when it diversifies away from its core responsibilities to indulge in a particular activity that is best conducted by private enterprise. the supremacy and arrogance of the Council has been a bad smell for some time but is about to get stinkier.

It’s urban compact city plans are not happening and its frustrated and desperate to make it happen.

And its usually at times like this that stupid decisions are made.

Len Brown has now announced that Auckland Council will form an Urban development agency to improve the city’s ability to address some of its’ pressing urban development needs. In short – it is going to jump right on into the very high risk game of property development.

Auckland Council’s Governing Body today agreed to support the establishment of an urban development agency to improve the city’s ability to address some of its pressing urban development needs.

The new entity, called Development Auckland, will have a key role in helping deliver the council priority of quality urban living and will have the mandate to deal with the challenge of Auckland’s rapid growth through regeneration and investment.  The agency will have the capability to deliver public and private development and infrastructure, including housing, across the region.

The new entity is a result of the realignment of Auckland Council’s council-controlled organisations (CCOs).

Mayor Len Brown said: “Meeting Auckland’s development needs over the next 10 to 20 years requires a transformational shift in the council’s approach to urban development and regeneration

“Central government, the council, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector will be able to work together in a way that does not burden ratepayers further with the costs of growth, but rather sees them realise the benefits of it.

“The CCO review has provided Auckland Council with an opportunity to address this.”    Read more »

Hosking’s good hard sledge of Len Brown

Mike Hosking delivered one long hard sledge against the little ratbag masquerading as Auckland’s mayor.

In a way I have no one to blame but myself.

I, much to my surprise, have found myself increasingly agitated about the running of this great city. Increasingly I feel it is being run by idiots. Idiots and financial illiterates.

I have had little, if any, interest in local body politics before. I didn’t vote last time. I don’t think I voted the time before. In fact if I were putting it all on the record it’s entirely possible I have never voted.

So you have every right to bag me now for complaining.

Actually I am not complaining, more raising the alarm. More asking the question: Am I the only one who thinks things around Auckland Council are getting hopelessly out of control? By way of some defence, I didn’t vote in my local area because there was only one person standing.

And when it came to Mayor there was the incumbent and the New York restaurateur. Who seemed like a decent bloke but had no profile, and as much as I might have liked to vote for someone other than Len, I would never vote against someone. Voting against someone is a recipe for trouble. You might not like what’s in office, but that doesn’t mean just anything else is the answer.

People who don’t vote, then complain usually give me the shits…but I’ll spare Mike some latitude.

Anyway, having got my excuses out of the way, I am bordering on ropable over what’s unfolding around the council table. First of all shall we deal with the broken promises?

Len Brown promised a rate rise of no more than 2.5 per cent yet voted for a 3.5 per cent increase.

Len Brown promised rate rises within the range of inflation.

The council promised a maximum rates cap of 10 per cent. They then rejected that.

Hundreds of thousands of households will be getting bills with increases of in excess of 10 per cent, some as high as 40 per cent. How in God’s name is this allowed to happen?

Read more »

Oh well done Len. Well done. 2.5%, then 3.5%, and now up to 40% and more

Auckland Council are determined to get everyone paying exactly what the formula says they should pay, no matter how much this will increase rates.  Check this out.

The cap which has protected some Auckland homeowners from up to 40 per cent rates rises has been voted down…

Auckland Council’s Governing Body today argued its way through its 10-year budget, known as the Long-term Plan 2015-25.

Among a series of major decisions it has removed the rates cap, refused a referendum on its controversial plans to pay for expensive transport projects and made changes to how it charges property developers.

The vote to scrap the rates cap was tight – 11 votes to 10.

Since the eight old Auckland councils amalgamated into the super city, the new council has been trying to align the rates it charges.

It has meant some homeowners have had decreases in their rates, but others have faced steep increases.

In an effort to give some relief to the pain of those homeowners in line for big increases, the council operated a policy called “rates transition” – capping the extent of rates rises each year to a maximum of 10 per cent.

But today the cap went  – all ratepayers who own similar value properties will pay the same rates no matter where in Auckland they live. And no matter how big the rates rise.

It has been reported that some will now face a massive household rates increases of 40 per cent or more next year.

This is after Len promised 2.5% rises.

And then he said, sorry, but, erm… 3.5%, ok?

And now this.     Read more »

Face of the day

Pippa Doyle

Pippa Doyle

One of New Zealand’s most secretive military organisations has opened its high-security doors for a 93-year-old woman.

Tonight, it was a meeting of war heroes when New Zealand’s Victoria Cross winner Willie Apiata kissed 93-year-old Pippa Doyle, one of the great if unknown secret agents of World War II.

Apiata was in the audience as Pippa – otherwise known as Phyllis Latour Doyle – received France’s highest decoration: the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur, the Legion of Honour (knight class).

 DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ TOP HONOUR: The Legion of Honour medal which was presented to Pippa Doyle.


DAVID WHITE/Fairfax NZ
TOP HONOUR: The Legion of Honour medal which was presented to Pippa Doyle.

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I can see Len implementing this in Auckland

Insanity…but the sort of thing that Len Brown is likely to bring to Auckland in order to carry on his dream of making the city the most liveable city in the world…whatever that means.

MPs have been criticised for employing a member of staff to hand-strip the leaves from its trees because it is more cost efficient than raking them up.

For most of Friday Annabel Honeybun, a gardener contracted by the Palace of Westminster, was cutting back the leaf stalks from the lime trees in New Palace Yard below Big Ben.

For several hours Miss Honeybun climbed a step ladder under the tree and removed the golden coloured leaves, throwing them to the floor.

The leaf-stripping was carried out in full few of members of the public outside the gates guarding the entrance to New Palace Yard, and a few yards from Parliament Square.

The House of Commons employs a gardening service which covers maintenance of more than 145 trees on the Parliamentary estate as well as all grassed areas, planted areas, indoor plants, containers and window boxes.

A spokesman for the House of Commons said: “The leaves are removed each winter as a more time-efficient alternative to raking fallen leaves.

“It is not possible to separate the cost of removing leaves from the trees in New Palace Yard from the wider cost of the gardening contract.”

But there was surprise by users on Twitter, the social media network, that time was being spent removing the leaves instead of leaving nature would work its magic naturally.

Read more »

Face of the day

Len Brown

Len Brown

Auckland mayor Len Brown has traded verbal blows in a heated debate over how the council is making decisions about rates and financial matters.

Former Auckland City mayor Chris Fletcher has accused him of rushing through decisions without adequate information and proper procedure.

An angry Len Brown has shouted down Councillor Fletcher, saying he’s had enough of her ‘baseless’ accusations over the past four years.

He says the decisions have to be made, the information has been adequate, and no one will be entirely satisfied by the process.

It’s the latest in a string of angry outbursts from the mayor, who’s faced repeated challenges about spending plans during a two-day meeting.

On several occasions, he’s lost his temper at left and right wing councillors who have criticised proposed plans for transport and stadiums.

-NewstalkZB

Read more »

Why are we spending millions on cycling in Auckland?

Like a scene from the Muppet Show

Like a scene from the Muppet Show

At the moment there is a very vocal push for cycling friendly policies from Auckland Council and for some astonishing new projects that will pour millions into cycleways and the bizarre proposal to clip a cycleway onto the Harbour bridge.

As you will see, the bike spotting freaks as Cycle Action Auckland and Transportblog are talking out of their arsewhen they try and say cycling is an important commuter mode in Auckland.

avtually cycling has barely the sort of numbers that warrant $15m on the duplication of a cycle path to Westhaven or the $6m on the unwanted cycle path through Northcote Point (already labelled a ‘safe for cycling’ route by CAA) and certainly not the massive financial risk underwriting Skypath will be to the rate payer – based on Skypath’s untested and rather fanciful patronage figures.

Below is an excerpt from the AT board papers (Mar-14).   It maybe an interesting exercise to calculate the CAGR of ‘Bicycle’ against other active modes like ‘Walked or Jogged’.

You will see that when the claimed increases in active modes is cited, essentially that is walking/running, NOT cycling.  Read more »

Time to say goodbye to local government?

It is fast becoming time raise the prospect that Local Government is an outdated form of bureaucracy and should be dissolved in favour of simple asset management organisations that deal with infrastructure.

Local Government was fine 80 years ago and perhaps it is sufficient to argue that it was fine in the 80’s when typewritten letters were still in use. But as technology has advanced so have the manners in which we behave. Business is now able to remotely operate in all parts of the world with a single head office creating huge efficiencies and savings in cost.

For a country of four million people and five major cities the question has to be asked as to why we have 30 odd local government jurisdictions. All of which are repeating the same processes and tasks albeit rather poorly.

The amalgamation of Auckland has raised the spectre that perhaps Local Government is simply too inefficient and consumed with inward navel gazing whilst dreaming wistfully of utopian paradises. Auckland Council is a dysfunctional and toxic environment that is bloated, heavily in debt and unable to perform its functions and duties.

Rather than labour through the pain of birthing even more of these monstrosities perhaps its time to suggest that we don’t need Local Government at all.

Rather what we need is simple municipal organisations that are responsible for and manage infrastructure. In Auckland Watercare Services is an excellent example of the structure implied. Its responsibility is to manage water and sewerage infrastructure. Pretty easy. Auckland Transport – whilst somewhat confused about what it does, can easily deal with roads and trains and buses.

And one to manage parks.  Read more »

Len’s going for your wallet even when you’re dead

grave-robbers

Granny had better pick out a burial plot in the backyard because Len’s going for your wallet even when you’re dead.

The cost of burials in Auckland cemeteries could increase by thousands of dollars under proposed changes to the Auckland Council’s budget.

Burial fees would rise throughout Auckland with some cemeteries increasing the cost of a child plot by $2000 increase, under the plan.

Waiheke and Great Barrier islands are particularly hard hit.

A single depth plot interment at Waiheke Island’s Onetangi Cemetery could increase from $176 to $1350.

On Great Barrier Island’s Tryphena Cemetery grave digging would go from being free to costing $1350. Burials on the island have, in effect, been subsidised in the past, the draft budget says.    Read more »

Dear NZ Herald Editorial writer, No we didn’t

The NZ Herald editorial writer today must have been Brian Rudman.

Why?

Because it bangs on about Len’s rail loop, and makes heroic assumptions, the worse one being:

Aucklanders, however, showed they shared the Mayor’s enthusiasm for the link when they re-elected him. There is nothing to suggest this sentiment has waned. Only that some councillors are getting cold feet over issues that can be tackled without the project having to be placed on hold. If anything, the link is becoming more important. The council should acknowledge as much and get on with it.

No we didn’t.

There was a 36% voter turn out in Auckland in 2013 for the local body elections. In 2010 it was 51%, a massive slump of confidence in the process as a result of Len Brown’s first term.

Given there was just a 36% turnout then Len Brown’s 164,338 votes of the 1,047,910 enrolled to vote was just 15% of eligible voters.   Read more »