Len Brown

So why do we need the Auckland CRL?

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Sceptics say the autonomous car has always been 10 years away. But now it really does seem imminent. The Google car – a cute anthropomorphic turret-topped bubble – has clocked up almost 1 million driverless kilometres around Silicon Valley. This is roughly twice the average driver’s accident-free mileage and all of its dents, they say, arise from (other) driver error. Three other prototypes are also driving around British cities.

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An email from a reader

A reader emails:

Hi Cam,

I can’t help but notice the very recent hypocrisy by a number of media people, commentators and left leaning people regarding the media and in particular the possibility of the Campbell Live program closing down.

First of all I think that it is generally accepted in the wider community  that John  Campbell is a champion for the rights of less fortunate  and for people who may be suffering through a crisis, like the victims of the earthquake in Christchurch. He typically takes their side and champions their issues. As a consequence he is often attacking Government policy, Government politicians and employers. He has hard luck stories on his program and exploits them to demonstrate in many cases the failings of the current Government. He never appears to promote the  good things that have been achieved and quite deliberately likes stories that show up employers, corporates or the Government. It is fair to say that he has strong left leaning tendencies. This is evidenced by his soft handling of Len Brown during the affair controversy , his promotion of Kim Dotcom in the media and his scorn of Government public agencies like the GCSB and the support of Nicky Hager and his book.   Read more »

Ratepayers Alliance to take on the Auckland Council

A new ratepayer group, the Auckland Ratepayers Alliance, has been established to hold Len Brown’s council to account.

Rate hikes, proposed new taxes and a culture of wasteful spending has led a group of concerned citizens to form the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance which begins operations from today.

Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, says, “Our purpose is to hold Auckland Council to account. With 130 spin-doctors the Council is very good at sidelining the concerns of neighbourhood ratepayer groups. By combining forces, this new group will shine the light on those wasting ratepayers’ money.”

“Aucklanders who are sick and tired of the Council wasting ratepayer money are invited to join us.”

It sounds as though the Ratepayers Alliance is keen to unite the neighbourhood groups throughout Auckland and gear them up ready to take on the council rather than having their voices lost in the suburbs.

This could be quite a headache for Len Brown or any other “independent” Labour Party mayor that might be at the reins.

Auckland Board Member of the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union, Gabrielle O’Brien, says, “Traditionally it’s been the business and property groups that have stuck up for fiscal responsibility within Auckland’s local government. Unfortunately most Auckland business groups are now heavily reliant on ratepayer money and find it difficult to bite the Council hand that feeds them.”

All modern socialists know that the best way to get business on side is by throwing around freebies and funding. Auckland Council has basically taken over the EMA, Business NZ and Property Council by charging it back to taxpayers or ratepayers.

“With rates digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of Aucklanders, residents need an organisation that gives a collective strength to their voice. The Taxpayers’ Union has assisted in establishing the Ratepayers’ Alliance to ensure that Auckland has a dedicated organisation holding the Mayor, his Council, and officials to account.”

A ratepayer group that won’t be swayed by local government handouts?

Auckland Council will be in crisis mode.

All power to them, I think I’ll become a member.

Len Brown positive about Auckland housing market going backwards at a slightly slower pace

Halfway through Auckland’s Housing Accord, housing targets are being met, but an increase in the region’s population has resulted in a deficit of thousands of properties.

In September 2013, the Government and council agreed to the accord with a target of consenting 39,000 new homes over three years.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown told TV3’s The Nation that “good progress” had been made.

“Not great or outstanding progress, but very good progress in terms of lifting that supply.”

New apartments accounted for 40 per cent of consents applied for in the first quarter of this year, he said.

“And we’re seeing that build going on in Auckland at around our metro centres with some real pace.

“So I’m not as pessimistic as that, I’m optimistic for the fact that the Auckland construction industry is building to this demand.”

But property investor and developer David Whitburn from Fuzo Property told The Nation the situation had got worse.

“Even with that housing accord there we haven’t seen that many houses built yet, there’s been a number of infrastructure challenges.”

There was really strong demand for houses, fuelled by a growing number of migrants to the city, he said.

All the Housing Accord did was clear some obstacles in the consent process.  But then we saw the other day that only a 130-something affordable properties were completed…. in total.  In the mean time, Auckland continues to be flooded with new migrants.

Auckland as a whole is sliding backwards with demand increasing and supply not even keeping the backlog in place.

But, according to Len we’re going backwards slower now, and thats…

good progress… Not great or outstanding progress, but very good progress in terms of lifting that supply

Lifting supply?  Where are the houses Len?  Actual houses?

 

– NZ Herald

Auckland Council and the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance

Some of you might have seen the recent opinion piece in the NBR by Jordan Williams from the Taxpayers Union. Williams spells out the shambles that is Auckland Council and drops a few hints.

Broken promises, eye watering rate hikes, 8500 staff, 130 spin doctors, diplomats in London, $200,000 penis art, $100,000 silk curtains, fashion consultants for finance staff, cut library hours and no berm mowing. Is this is SuperCity we hoped for?

What went wrong with Rodney Hide’s creature of efficient governance and local democracy? Auckland Council is case in point supporting the economic literature that suggests that local government suffers from diseconomies of scale once a council gets larger than around 250,000 residents. It is little wonder that Auckland Council is greater than the sum of its former parts.

In 2013, David Farrar and I established the Taxpayers’ Union to fight against government waste and argue for lower taxes. We could not have envisioned how much time and effort Auckland Council would consume.

Well even I didn’t expect Len Brown to build personal bathrooms and gyms.

Our staff and volunteers battle with the council’s corporatised spin machine every day. Its 130 communications staff habitually ignore information requests, leak requested material to handpicked media (in order to control a story) and bend over backward to protect the Mayor and his deputy.

Combine that with a weak Ombudsman to oversee the applicable freedom of information laws, it is little wonder that so many Aucklanders become frustrated trying to hold the council to account.

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Easy commute or $50K a year off your mortgage?

Cost of growth experts, compact city advocates and mostly Auckland Council planners – will be highly agitated by this news.

Buying a house on the city’s outskirts can save Aucklanders up to $50,000 each year in mortgage repayments, despite the added commuting costs, new figures reveal.

The research, carried out by real estate firm Bayleys, factored in the cost of mortgage repayments as well as the cost of travel from the respective areas.

Lower house prices in outlying suburbs – like Papakura, New Lynn, Sunnyvale and Manukau – meant even with transport costs homeowners were still paying significantly less than those in city-fringe suburbs.

Bayleys calculated the first-year mortgage repayment costs for different suburbs based on median house prices from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) and the ANZ variable rate of 6.74 per cent.

It found the annual cost of servicing a mortgage for a median priced Orakei or Remuera home ($1.35 million) was $84,060 in the first year.

Yep, it is cheaper to live in the burbs.  Read more »

Wonder if Len will try this next

Located right by the Black Sea, Constanța is Romania’s main port and its number-one tourist destination, and for the past 19 years it’s had the pleasure of being run by mayor and legendary party animal Radu Mazăre. If you keep up with local Romanian politics you’ll know that Radu was recently arrested for—among other things—allegedly accepting a $10 million bribe for a contract that cost taxpayers $28 million more than it should have.

But we’re not here to talk about politics and corruption; we’re here to talk about a flamboyant man who spends his days doing extreme sports, and inadvertently wearing Nazi uniforms to fashion shows, and his nights partying. A man who, whenever it gets too cold, jets out to his mansion in Brazil, because it’s totally fine to just rule Constanța over the phone for a couple of months a year, right?

Len should consider going down this track.   Read more »

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More pork pies being sold by Mayor

The Mayor continues to tell porkies about what he knew regarding the Ports wharves and reclamation fiasco.

Only on Sunday the POAL CEO called Len Brown out for being a liar – stating that Len knew the whole time.

Now Lenny’s digging his hole deeper.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has conceded the first he knew about two wharf extensions at the Ports of Auckland was from the Herald.

Mr Brown had previously indicated he knew about the finger wharves at Bledisloe Wharf before the Herald broke the story on February 11.   Read more »

Despite warnings from Auditor General Auckland Council commits millions in loans for Len’s train set

Despite warnings from the Auditor General about staying works before having the means to pay for the rest of the Rail Tunnel – Auckland Council is about to start works down the bottom of town.

Big traffic and public transport challenges face downtown Auckland from construction starting in less than a year for the $2.5 billion underground railway to Mt Eden.

Auckland Transport disclosed yesterday that it hopes to start digging trenches across lower Queen St in January, meaning rerouting buses such as the Northern Express fleet.

That is expected to require the relocation of 16 bus stops.

The council body also expects to close the main entrance to Britomart Station, through the old Central Post Office, for about three years from March.

Temporary ticketing machines and gates will be installed at the eastern end of the station to cope with peak crowds of about 4000 passengers an hour.

Albert St, one of the main bus feeder routes into downtown Auckland, faces some disruption from October as a stormwater main is moved to make way for a pair of “cut and cover” rail tunnels to be dug from Britomart as far as Wyndham St in a package of early works likely to cost about $250 million.    Read more »

Len Brown says one thing, Ports boss says he’s lyin’, I think we know who to believe

Len Brown went on Q+A yesterday and was in spin overdrive, just a few minutes later the Ports of Auckland boss calls him out as a liar.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has stepped up a war of words with Ports of Auckland, accusing port bosses of keeping the council in the dark about two huge wharf extensions.

Speaking on Television New Zealand’s Q+A programme yesterday, Mr Brown said the port company had acted outside its statement of intent by not holding discussions with the council about planned spending on the port’s footprint.

Mr Brown, who has previously argued the council was powerless to stop the wharf extensions and direct the port company how to run its business, gave the strongest hint yet that he now opposes port expansion.

“I’m with most Aucklanders. I know that there’s absolutely a limit that we have to draw around the port in terms of how far the port can go into the harbour,” he said yesterday.

Port chief executive Tony Gibson, who appeared on the same programme, said Mr Brown’s claims about not holding discussions were not true.

He said the wharf extensions were a “non-notifiable issue” and the real issue was around reclamation.

The port company has said it plans to reclaim 3ha of seabed between the wharf extensions over time.

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