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.

‚ÄúIt 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.‚ÄĚ

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.

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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.


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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 ‚ÄėBicycle‚Äô against other active modes like ‚ÄėWalked or Jogged‚Äô.

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


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.


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 »

10 reasons why Len’s rail loop is stupid

With all the nonsensical debate going on this week over the CRL I thought it would be appropriate to take a look at some reasons why the tunnel/loop is a monumental waste of rate payers and tax payers money.
1. Expenditure. The CRL takes up the majority of transport capital expenditure for Auckland Council on the Long Term Plan. That means that whilst the CBD gets a shiny new toy, the rest of Auckland gets no expenditure. it is a vastly expensive item with little widespread benefits to Auckland;
2. Work place locations.¬†Auckland has some 27 or 28 workplace destinations scattered all around the city’s urban area. The CBD is only home to 14% of the work place population meaning that 86% of the balance of people work somewhere else. The CRL is only anticipated to boost that to 16%. Why spend so much money on one transport proposal that benefits so few people who work in Auckland? If the CRL is built the rest of Auckland is still going to be driving to work. Some of the city’s largest work place destinations like East Tamaki-Highbrook, Albany, Wiri and the Airport are unserviced by any form of public transport and so cars will still reign;
3. CBD workers¬†don’t all live along or near the rail lines. Most of them in fact. Most of the CBD workers are not the lower income people who need PT either;
4. Alternatives first.¬†Before the rail is required to be upgraded at considerable expense surely Auckland Council should pay priority to adding services that widen the network and benefit more people. Some advocates for trams note that over 100km of crisscrossing tramtracks and infrastructure could be constructed for the same cost as the tunnel. That’s¬†enough to cover most of the former Auckland city areas with trams. Think of all the students who can use that to get to school. Families going to sports or to the shops. The added benefit of such infrastructure will also relieve some of the pressure on the rail, extending it’s capacity;
5. The tunnel is only a¬†Monday to Friday¬†gig¬†because it will be predominantly used by CBD commuters to get to work. On the weekends it will be on much reduced services just as it is now. On the weekends all the rail users will convert back to their cars because Public Transport doesn’t go anywhere else and let’s be honest – nobody goes to the CBD on the weekend. A quick walk up Queens St shows why;

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Auckland’s councillors are revolting

Well, not all of them, but certainly enough to put Len Brown’s pet project in jeopardy.

The $2.4 billion City Rail Link could be deferred until 2020 because of mounting concerns by councillors about its impact on rates, debt and big cuts to community services.

A number of councillors are having second thoughts about an early start on the rail project and support deferring work until the Government comes on board with funding in 2020.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has locked $2.2 billion into a new 10-year budget to begin work on the 3.5km underground rail link in 2016 and completed by 2021.

On Wednesday, all 20 councillors and the mayor will debate the budget and make decisions on the rail project for public consultation.

One commenter notes:

The best news from the article is that councillors seem to be backing away from the train set – with luck Len’s folly will be initially deferred and later abandoned without fanfare.

And another comments:

Had a quick look. Finally it seems like ‘the people of Auckland are getting mad enough and therefore loud enough to be heard. Reading between the lines it seems like the counsellors have decided they would rather get re-elected and keep their jobs than support someone (Lenny) who is going to lose.

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He’s right, he’s lucky we don’t have recall

Look at him mocking you, he's almost gloating

Look at him mocking you, he’s almost gloating

Len Brown has a real cheek, yesterday he was in the Sunday Papers exclaiming just how lucky he is.

Yeah, lucky we don’t have recall elections.

Get a bucket ready…he is even mocking the whole affair with the photo.

“Yo,” said the mayor, leaping from the mayoral limousine into a Mangere street, hand outstretched, bailing up a dishevelled man in a beanie. The man looked bemused. The mayor kept moving.

It was either the first anniversary of Len Brown’s re-election as mayor of Auckland, or the first anniversary of revelations he had an affair with Bevan Chuang, depending on how salaciously you looked at things.

He was busy, so this was a peripatetic interview. The mayor was heading into a South Auckland housing charity, midway through a day that had begun at a men’s breakfast in Mt Eden and would end at a sports dinner in Weymouth.

He was always busy; this week, exceptionally so. He was unveiling ambitious $12 billion plans to modernise Auckland’s transport systems, there was a rates announcement, and a minor stink over whether to ban open fireplaces.

His offbeat greeting was almost the only glimpse of the old, madcap, rapping, face-slapping mayor. Brown was serious, sombre now. Too busy and, you might speculate, a man changed by that affair.

Fortunately, Brown was just home from a month’s holiday in Europe with his family. Paris, Munich, Bordeaux, Prague.

He talked about their compact architecture and transport systems, bemoaned how much tagging they had suffered. This didn’t sound like the “outstanding” break he claimed it had been. “You never switch off as a mayor.

“It’s a job that requires such intense levels of concentration and focus.”

He didn’t, he said, suffer from stress. “I’m doing a job I love and feel very honoured and proud to do so in that situation.

“It’s hard to describe something you love as stressful. But it’s a very intense job.”

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Turns out there is affordable housing, it’s just not in Auckland

There is considerable moaning from the left about the lack of affordable housing.

As I have noted many times house are affordable even in Auckland. In fact there are so many that people are forced to sell them, and if they were truly unaffordable then none would sell, but sell they do.

But there are many affordable housing options, and is just that they aren’t in Auckland.

At  20, Stacey Knuth of Whanganui has achieved what few young Kiwis her age can still do Рbuy a house.

She bought a state house in Gonville, a suburb which according to September quarter housing figures has the third-cheapest housing in the country.

A far cry from Parnell or Ponsonby, a house in Gonville had a median sales price of $110,000.

And it’s in close proximity to the country’s cheapest suburb, Castlecliff, where houses this quarter went for a median $88,000.

But Gonville has another distinction. It tied with Wellington’s Brooklyn for the quarter’s highest jump in house sales, up 145 per cent on the same period last year, due in part to a clutch of state houses on the market.

Whanganui has become a bit of a poster child for declining provincial towns, but to Knuth, who is locally born and bred, Gonville is a great place to live.

“I’ve been living here for about two months now and it’s really nice, it’s a good little four-bedroom home . . . It’s a good little neighbourhood, I’ve had no trouble.

“There’s no houses in front of me and no houses out back so on a clear day you can see the mountain straight out the front and then out back you can see the sea.”

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