Len Brown

English tells Auckland Council to get on with it

You should know when you are not performing when the Finance Minister states it publicly.

Bill English has told media that a despite notifying tranche land for special housing areas – the Council is lacking substantially consenting developments on them.

Hardly a surprise.

Efforts to address Auckland’s chronic housing shortage by building thousands of homes in special housing areas could be hindered by a lack of tradesmen, the industry says.

The comments come as the Government accuses Auckland Council of being too slow to issue consents to get construction under way.

Special housing areas catering for a projected 39,000 future homes are being established in Auckland in a bid to boost supply and curb price inflation, but Finance Minister Bill English said they still hinged on consents.

The Government wanted to see the council follow through on the special housing area announcements and process the required consents to allow construction to start.

“They’ve had pretty positive leadership in this area, but I think they’re yet to show the kind of urgency about really changing how they do business,” English said.

“Their decisions have an impact on the whole economy. They have an impact on thousands of households, so they need to understand that impact and get on with the job.”

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Does the Mayor need to disclose relationships he has with property developers?

Two weeks ago Mayor Brown stood at the Akipiro St, Eden Terrace development site of Mark Todd and announced the Tranche 3 Special Housing Areas.

The developer intends building a small 25 unit apartment block with a design competition to be run by the NZIA. All very noble and perhaps a quality building to come.

Today a press release from the NZIA (PDF 189K)states the competition details.

Interestingly the panel of judges includes Jacques Victor from Mayor Brown’s own office.   Read more »

The pay rise has gone to his head

Is Len Brown serious or now proving he is a looney?

The NZ Herald reports:

Seaplanes, America’s Cup yacht charters and the Auckland Harbour Bridge SkyPath are among forecast visitor experiences tipped to help lift Auckland’s annual tourism income.

Mayor Len Brown said the city’s visitor economy was booming and plans were in place to expand from a $4.8 billion-a-year industry in 2012 to $7.2 billion in 2021 – a rise of 50 per cent.

Auckland’s previous 10-year visitor plan, released by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) in 2011, was to grow the visitor economy from $3.3 billion in 2010 to $6 billion annually in 2021.

The plan is being revisited. The increase would be achieved by increasing international tourism from $2.46 billion in 2012 to $4.23 billion in 2021 and domestic tourism from $2.37 billion in 2012 to $3 billion in 2021, Mr Brown said.   Read more »

Are you as pleased about Len’s pay rise as I am?

via Yahoo! Len Brown celebrating the start of the Year of the Whores

via Yahoo! Len Brown celebrating the start of the Year of the Whores

Len Brown has scored a payrise, as has every councillor in the latest deliberations from the Remuneration Authority.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown will be paid $259,500 from July after the Remuneration Authority approved a 3.4 per cent pay rise well above the rate of inflation and the average wage increase in New Zealand.

The authority, which oversees public sector pay rates, has recommended a 3.4 per cent pay rise for Mr Brown, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and the chairs of the major committees. The other 16 councillors will receive a 3.3 per cent pay rise, taking their salaries from $98,672 to $101,900.

The $101,900 salary is embarrassing for Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer, who has criticised a sharp increase in the number of council staff earning fat salaries of more than $100,000.

Last October, Mr Brewer said a 256 jump in staff earning more than $100,000 in 12 months “will go down like a cup of cold sick among our stretched suburban ratepayers”.    Read more »

Bill English gives Brown and Dalziel a tickle up

New Zealand’s two largest cities are being run by Labour cronies.  Both have a severe problem planning, managing and providing solutions for housing crisis.  Marta Steeman explains

Finance Minister Bill English pointed the finger at Christchurch and Auckland city councils for their part in the country’s high interest rates and dollar.

English said at the post-Budget gathering of about 100 Christchurch businesspeople that a sharp rise in immigration caused by fewer Kiwis leaving for Australia would place strain on the housing market.

Councils needed to respond pretty quickly by granting consents for more houses, faster, so housing prices didn’t soar.

Councils needed to understand how their decisions had broad impact on the economy and the Government was working “intensively” with them on that.

“Some of the decisions that the Christchurch City Council could have made in the aftermath of the earthquake are driving down returns for export businesses in Invercargill, because anything that pushes house-price growth up keeps the structure of interest rates and exchange rates higher than they otherwise would be,” English said.

Instead of fiddling with train sets and trying to get more money out of the rate and tax payers to create one, the Auckland council has only one major objective:  provide housing for people that come to live here.

Not doing so will drag the whole of New Zealand down with it.  Even people in Dannevirk will be paying too much for their mortgage because Len Brown and his council aren’t making housing their number one priority.   Read more »

Special Housing Areas – old tricks at play

SHA’s being delayed by old council tricks.

Unsurprisingly Len Brown’s Auckland Council Special Housing Office planners have already discovered a way of circumnavigating the short consent processing time frames of the Housing Accord laws enacted by the Government last year.

Under the HASHA (Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas) rules the Council has 60 working days to process a consent. Once a consent application is lodged it must be processed in the statutory time frame. And the reason is obviously because the government wants fast tracked consents and quickly delivered affordable housing projects.

Unlike a standard consent process – where Council uses Section 92 requests to place consents on hold whilst requesting information from applicants – there is no opportunity for the Special Housing Office (SHO).

So what does the Auckland Council SHO do?

Council now wants applicants to undergo a ‘pre-lodgement process’.

And they are quite open about what that includes – review and analysis of the applicants proposal and documentation prior to lodgement so that after lodgement the process becomes a rubber stamping exercise.

A pre-application process is nothing less than a sneaky opportunity to circumnavigate the constraints of the law and it’s a move designed to buy more time, whilst meddling with developers proposals.

Applicants are being told that the Council will not accept their applications until the SHA planners are satisfied with the ‘completeness of applications’.   Read more »

Len Brown’s vision for Auckland in tatters

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Cameron Brewer has thrown a hammer smack into the middle of Len Brown’s vision for Auckland to be “the world’s most liveable city”.

Anti-alcohol fanatics have learn’t a thing or two from those anti-tobacco nutters and are pushing Auckland Council to make the city clamp down on mums wanting to buy a few bottles of wine for their evening dinner.

“This policy if adopted will see cordons go up around the alcohol section of every supermarket early in the morning and late at night. Annoying a lot of people, wine and beer will be roped off like we used to have in the old days when you couldn’t buy alcohol from supermarkets on Sundays. It’s ‘back to the future’ stuff,” says Mr Brewer.

“Mum and dad shoppers won’t be able to buy wine or beer with their weekly groceries before 9am and after 10pm. It makes no sense, particularly the morning ban, and such a move will do little to deliver on the intention of the 2012 Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act which is all about minimising alcohol harm. These grocery shoppers are not the problem!”

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Len’s Ngati Whatua room sex adventures causing renewed concern

As the LGOIMA requests are finally starting to come out of Auckland Council, the raw data (dare I say, “meta data”?) is being scrutinised by all and sundry for something that can be inferred that the EY report may not have reported on.

One concern remains over the security guard that surprised Bevan Chuang and Len Brown when they were pollishing the Ngati Whatua room table.  He somehow is unable to be indentified.  He can not be asked further questions.  But emails show he may have been pressured to do so.

Emails obtained under the Official Information Act reveal the Ernst and Young fraud investigation boss suspected the guard – who unwittingly caught the mayor and Bevan Chuang having sex in a council room – may have had “pressure bought to bear on them to keep quiet”.

Chuang revealed the interruption when she disclosed the affair last year. Efforts to identify the male guard – one of 16 to have worked during the past few years at the Town Hall where the Ngati Whatua room is located – were fruitless.

An email on November 7 last year from the council employment relations manager Andre Lubbe to security manager Dean Kidd indicated there was “some suspicion” about one guard. Read more »

Len Brown protests continue

via the tipline

Things aren’t going away for Len Brown, there are people out there who won’t forget.

Photos taken by invitation and permission granted to send them to you.

I spent a fun little while talking to the famous Toot Man today and joining in the protest.

Rich or poor, the toots show everyone is hacked off with LB.

LB-must-go-1 Read more »

Hookers? Other women? Why the secrecy, we paid for the calls

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Len Brown is in the gun again for his secrecy over many, many phone calls and texts to 5 numbers, one of which is the phone number of a female staff member.

The review into Len Brown’s extramarital affair with council adviser Bevan Chuang uncovered a large number of telephone calls and text messages the Auckland mayor made to five unidentified numbers.

Last night, Mr Brown declined to identify the numbers, saying the information was not held by him and details of his phone calls were private to him.

Papers released under the Official Information Act show that of the 25 telephone numbers with the highest frequency of calls and text messages from Mr Brown, six could not be attributed by the council to a person or company.

Council telco analyst Tracy Findlay did recognise one of the six telephone numbers as that of a female member of the mayoral team.

“The rest of the numbers were not located on our Vodafone or Telecom account,” she said in an email to Michael Quinn, the executive officer for then chief executive Doug McKay.

Read more »