Auckland Council top brass defending their woeful performance is pitiful

Auckland Council has been copping flak lately as everyone realises it is to blame for the lack of housing. Top brass at Council have deliberately pretended to work with the Government on the Housing Accord but at the same time have pressed on with the compact city model.

In reality the two ideas are mutually exclusive. Everyone knows it and can smell a dead rat.

Now top brass at the council, like Ree Anderson, are in defensive mode and are even writing for the Herald with missives that might as well have been delivered by an elf on a unicorn.

Physically it takes time for construction; to lay pipes and roads, build foundations and fit out and complete buildings. Developers may also rely on pre sales to enable the financing of their developments.

The Housing Accord has targets for 39,000 consented dwellings and sections over three years, not built homes. Residential dwelling consents have been used as an industry standard for many years to estimate the number of homes built. Council agrees that new measures that record actual builds is worthwhile and is developing systems to enable the capture of new data.    Read more »

The burgeoning cost of council meetings

A FOUR-HOUR Auckland Council committee meeting costs ratepayers more than $70,000, according to new figures released under the Official Information Act.

It was previously estimated council committee meetings cost ratepayers $20,000 per hour, but new figures show that is just a fraction of the cost.

The costs associated with committee meetings include the cost of producing reports, administration tasks, printing costs and the time associated with councillor and staff attendance.

Council spokesman Isis van Geenen said the media had recently used a figure of $20,000 per hour for a committee meeting. That figure was based on a previous estimate of $19,000 per hour, which was used as a scene setter for a discussion on changes to financial delegations of staff – and covered a ‘typical Governing body meeting’ of four hours and consisting of around 10 committee papers.

The figures included the cost of writing a report, the pre-meeting administration costs, the meeting itself and post-meeting costs.

She said the cost estimate did not include costs for communications or legal staff, catering, web casting, security and concierge staff or building costs, which included general wear and tear and power costs.  Read more »

Penny Hulse soft launches her campaign for the mayoralty

Penny Hulse has been doing most of the heavy lifting at council and has been the de facto mayor after Len Brown’s fall from grace.

She is as manipulative and devious as the mayor and has been making a soft play to take over the mayoralty. All pretence fell away yesterday as she attacked Len Brown in a bid to raise her profile.

Outgoing Auckland Mayor Len Brown is “not a team player”, his deputy says.

Brown announced on Sunday that he would not take another tilt at the Auckland leadership, conceding revelations over his extramarital affair had affected his re-election chances.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says councillors had told Brown some time ago not to contest the 2016 election.

“Some of us had to gird our loins several months ago and have a very difficult conversation with him about the fact that standing again for him was not an option,” she said.

Read more »

Speaking out against dodgy Auckland Council and their Maori pandering

David Rankin speaks out against the council’s mana whenua sites policies:

Aucklander and Ngapuhi cultural expert, David Rankin, who will be standing for the Auckland Council in 2016 election, has lashed out at the latest Council moves affecting ‘sites of cultural value’ in the city.

Mr Rankin says that the Council’s recent decision to remove 1373 locations from the list of supposedly culturally significant sites shows that the process has been what he describes as “a farce from the outset”.

Mr Rankin, who relocated the bones of his ancestor, Hone Heke, says that the process of claiming these “sites of value” reflected a snatch and grab mentality, and was culturally ignorant.

“Traditionally, tapu [sacred] sites were made tapu only for a specific reason, such as being the site of a battle.  Afterwards, they were made noa [ordinary] so everyone could return to using the site as required.”There is a brief karakia and ritual involved in returning a region to its noa status, says Mr Rankin, and he intends to perform this ceremony sometime next year.  As he explains.

“Once the tapu has been lifted, these sites will no longer have any sacred significance, and can be used as any other land in the city.”

It was essentially brownmail…and Stephen Franks points that out in a  recent blog post, although he doesn’t use my rather crude term.

We have advised a public spirited group called Democracy Action on the unlawfulness of Auckland Council’s ‘Mana Whenua’ provisions.

We have lately been investigating the prospects for a class action against the Council. In our opinion there are strong grounds for liability, but so far there may not have been enough evidence of realised loss to justify the costs of action. Today’s Herald reports that the Council will shortly vote on a proposal to remove 1,373 of the 3,600 ‘sites of value’:

That removal could delay the time when it would be economic to launch a class action.    Read more »

Herald editorial on the feeble mayoralty of Len brown

Just one of the bad eggs that need to be exited

The Herald editorial writes about the feeble mayoralty of Len Brown.

Seldom has New Zealand seen, at any level of politics, a rise and fall as rapid as that of Len Brown. It could be argued he was almost unknown to wider Auckland when, as Mayor of Manukau, he stood for the leadership of the newly amalgamated “Super City”. With the help of Labour Party campaign organisers, activists and funds, his image was strongly projected on billboards around the city and he emerged a surprising winner over the much better known, but contentious, John Banks.

Once elected, “Mayor Len” quickly became the face of the Super City and a personality in his own right. Relishing the fact Auckland could speak with a single voice for the first time, he embraced the role with the style of a religious revivalist, making high-blown speeches and breaking into song when the spirit moved him. It was cheesy but it was also effective. Auckland really did have a voice that was being heard and a “liveable city” programme that gave it a sense of progress.

Read more »

Paula Bennett should call for an enquiry into why the SHAs have been stuffed by Auckland Council

The Government currently has egg on its face because the Special Housing Areas are a dismal failure. With only a fraction over 100 houses built the Government has to shoulder some of the blame but it shouldn’t shun the topic when it could hold an enquiry.

Everyone knows that Auckland Council has deliberately shafted the SHAs with infrastructure and planning decisions.

For example the council deliberately cut budgets so that it could say to SHA developers there is no money to pay for needed pipes and that it was unlikely to build them for up to 30 years.

I think Paula Bennett could do more than sit back and watch. As Minister for Local Government she could, and should order an enquiry so that the facts can be laid bare for all to see.

That would allow her to follow through with legislative changes that stop Auckland Council acting like a bunch of unconscionable ratbags.

Like other Ministers she doesn’t understand Local Government and it’s not a sexy portfolio. In her drive to the top she is also prepared to take whatever portfolio her boss gives her but she isn’t willing to do much. Rocking the boat might result in a screw up. So she has been prepared to ignore things.   Read more »

Idiot councillor can’t see wood for trees

It appears that everyone else in Auckland knows why the Special Housing Areas have been a flop – except Chris Darby.

Darby just doesn’t know and is seeking ‘data’ to help him understand.

An Auckland councillor has expressed frustration at the lack of information and progress on the city’s special housing areas.

Chris Darby, deputy chairman of the Auckland Development Committee, said he had sought the data on progress many weeks ago and deputy mayor Penny Hulse supported him in his requests.

“I’m disappointed and that’s why I’ve been asking for this information formally since September 9,” Darby said.

The Herald revealed how only 102 residences are known to have been built two years into a three-year timeframe target to get 39,000 consents for new Auckland homes and new residential sections.

[…]    Read more »

A newspaper editorial on the housing debacle in Auckland

A newspaper has an editorial about the failure of the much vaunted housing accord.

It is disappointing, though no surprise, that after two years the Government’s “housing accord” with the Auckland Council has produced just 102 houses (of which it knows) in areas designated for faster building consents. When the accord was signed in October 2013, Auckland needed 39,000 houses in three years. This is the rate of building that will be needed to accommodate the region’s projected population increase over the next 25 years. At least 25,000 new houses should be built or nearing completion by now if the three-year target is to be met. The tally of 102 known to the council is pitiful.

But it is no surprise because the housing shortage in Auckland is not caused only by slow council consent procedures. The Productivity Commission has found a raft of other contributing problems, including the scale and capacity of the building industry in New Zealand. The council also points to the fact that when it does issue consents, there is no guarantee a house will be built. In fact, 2027 consents have been issued under the accord’s fast track and only 102 are known to have come to fruition so far.

Read more »

Opinion-for-Hire Maria Slade calls the Auckland mayoral election for Goff


There is no need for an election, Maria Slade has anointed Phil Goff as our next mayor.

If the Auckland mayoral campaign were a horse race the bookies would not bother laying odds on Phil Goff, so sure are his chances.

The news incumbent Len Brown is stepping down at next year’s election leaves the field wide open for the Labour MP.

Goff has not officially declared his hand but his rhetoric has been building for months to the point where it is now “likely” he will stand, and an announcement is expected shortly.

A centre-left candidate in the vein of Brown, the longtime MP and former Cabinet Minister is no rank outsider.

He is politically experienced, stable, likeable, and well connected in Wellington – an increasingly key attribute in the leader of the Auckland Super City.

Most importantly, at the moment he has exactly no competition.

Read more »

Want to know what a Phil Goff led council will be like?…look at Labour’s local body policy

Want to know what a Phil Goff led council will be like?

Well take a look at Labour’s local body policy…the one where they want to override local wishes and dictate what they want on to communities.

Meanwhile, Labour says it will change the law so local councils can override concerns of local communities and push through plans for more apartment blocks and terraced housing in inner suburbs, especially Auckland.

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford said restricting the use of density and height controls in inner suburbs would allow for more affordable housing.

While Auckland Council was trying to do that through its Unitary Plan, “it’s facing pretty staunch opposition from some nimby groups.”   Read more »