Calum Penrose facing a real fight as his former allies abandon him

Calum Penrose is declaring that he’s running as an independent, but the truth is he’s been dumped by his former allies who regard him as a traitor for hiking rates for grandiose Labour-backed big spending while failing to take care of his own Manurewa-Papakura ward.

Penrose is low profile in Papakura and invisible in Manurewa (where two thirds of the votes will be cast). When he does speak he is highly critical of Manurewa Local Board chairperson Angela Dalton, who is much-loved in her area.

Penrose claims he voted for a 9.9 per cent rate increase to fund $523 million worth of transport project. Yet he failed to secure just $2 million to keep Te Mahia Station safe for his own constituents.

Penrose says the local board campaigned on making Te Mahia a top priority and “throwing money at it”.

“The board has $2.5m unspent in its Regional Land Transport Programme budget.

“I can’t understand why they’re making it a priority to build a covered walkway which is on private land. They should go to Auckland Transport and say ‘we will put some skin in the game and put $1m into improving it [Te Mahia]’.

“But they want Auckland Transport to do everything.”

Penrose says Te Mahia has low patronage numbers and is therefore not as high a priority for upgrades as busier stations with more pressing security issues.

Lighting has been installed at Te Mahia and he’s working with the Manukau Beautification Trust to “tidy it up”.

“I would have thought Te Mahia would be the board’s priority. That’s what they campaigned on. They put something in, AT puts something in, it’s a win-win.”

Penrose says the station is covered by monitored CCTV cameras, its platform is lit to AT’s standards and the facility is patrolled by security guards.

“It has a public address system through which AT’s control room can speak directly to people on the platform. AT also liaises daily with police through its operations centre, assessing threats and managing issues on the network.

“Lights are being installed in the walkway that runs from Ferguson St to the station and contractors are still confirming details of the lighting that will be installed in the walkway that runs from Great South Rd.”  

Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton says the Manurewa Action Team campaigned to keep Te Mahia train station open in 2013 as it was then under threat of closure.

“That immediate threat has now passed but that doesn’t preclude Auckland Transport from funding improvements, particularly given that residential ratepayers in Greenmeadows are being charged a $114 per year transport levy courtesy of a 9.5 per cent rate increase councillor Penrose voted for.”

Dalton says it is not the board’s responsibility to “back-fund” Auckland Transport’s and Auckland Council’s “neglect of core public services”.

“AT’s publicly stated priority is to improve public safety at its suburban train stations. Councillor Penrose campaigned on a platform to improve public safety.

“Until he and AT ensure a meaningful regional investment in Te Mahia station, such assurances are worthless.”

Alone and increasingly isolated, Penrose has no friends of consequence in Manurewa.

He now seeks solace in the company of Bill Cashmore and Penny Hulse, and a socially awkward ticket collector-turned-house husband who lives in Arimu Road. Other councillors presume the oddball harbours ambitions of being elected to public office and wrongly assumes Penrose can nurse that ambition.

Penrose prefaces almost every speech with “I was on the motorway at 5:30am this morning”. His council colleagues wonder if Penrose is unhappy at home and is looking for distraction at Council. He is known to drive his car every day while demanding his constituents catch the train instead.

He is also one of the councillors who voted to return set netting to Arkles Bay, and so I have a real interest in seeing this dead set useless council rinsed in the coming elections.

The fact he is a toady to Len Brown and voted for every rates increase is reason enough for residents to give him the arse card come the elections.


– Fairfax

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