Take down the hedge or pay the money Honey

A Wellington woman has been told to rip up her hedge or pay the council $850 a year for encroaching on public land. Her hedge is along the berm and prevents parked cars from easily opening their doors. It also forces pedestrians to walk through a gap in the hedge on the other side of the berm in order to walk along that side of the street as there is no footpath.

Her argument is that it has been there for seven years and this is the first time that anyone has complained about it. Because people can walk through a gap in the hedge she feels that she is not preventing public access to the berm and she does not want to pay for having her hedge planted on public property.

After maintaining the hedge on a berm outside her Wellington home for seven years, Andrea Skews says the council now ...

LUCY SWINNEN/FAIRFAX NZ After maintaining the hedge on a berm outside her Wellington home for seven years, Andrea Skews says the council now wants to charge her $850 a year to keep it.

While I sympathise with the hassle of removing the hedge she fails to see that it is a very black and white issue. It is not relevant that no one has complained before. I might speed for 7 years before I finally get caught by a speed camera or a cop but that doesn’t change the fact that I broke the law. Even though no one pointed out to the council that she had made public land part of her property she has still made public land part of her property.

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A solution for the issue of unmown berms

The NZ Herald ran another story on the weekend about the unmown berms in Auckland.

I think I have found a solution to the problem…on the Council’s own website.

Properties with overgrown grass

Overgrown properties are a common complaint year-round, and can have serious implications. The council will become involved with overgrown properties if they involve a potential risk to health. This includes:

  • long, dry grass posing a fire hazard
  • overgrowth?providing a breeding ground for rats and other vermin
  • property providing a?breeding ground for flies, mosquitoes or other insects capable of causing or transmitting disease. ? Read more »

Berms, Verges and Council Maintenance

A reader emails about berms or verges…and the resulting confusion.

We were at a function the other night and there was a mixed?political group. Left and Right. The hosts were having their?footpaths redone and the inevitable jokes about Len and the berms and?the verges started.

This caused the question. What is a verge and a what is a berm?

Google provided adequate answers. Then the question was asked what is?a verm?

The urban dictionary stunned us all and started a while new series of?Len Brown jokes.

Sad but true.

Urban Dictionary: verm
A miniscule prick of insufficient size to achieve penetration. ? Read more »

John Roughan on mowing of berms

John Roughan misses the point somewhat on the mowing of berms.

It is a bit of a chore to mow the berm. I live down a right of way and have to push the machine up there for a wedge of grass between my drive and the next. Too often I forget. It had never occurred to me that the council should do it.

The council most definitely should not. This is fast becoming the defining issue in Auckland’s election and it is a good one. It might seem trivial beside long-term population plans, housing densities and commuter rail schemes but unlike them, an uncut verge is visible, pressing and very close to home.

The problem John is that the council has socked those people 30% rates increased and reduced the services they are paying for. Their berms were mowed by the rapacious council, now they are getting less, despite paying more…of course that is going to cause anger. ? Read more »

Random Impertinent Questions about Berms


Why has the council closed half of Orakei Road in order to narrow the already busy road and to install berms?

Who will have to mow these berms now that the council has decided to put them in when they never existed before?

How much has this folly cost?

Why is the council putting in berms when it has no intention of maintaining them?

And it isn’t just berms either…Cameron Brewer has discovered other un-mown council features.

?The long grass around Auckland is not just limited to suburban berms. Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have also stopped mowing many pocket parks, road reserves, and grassed traffic islands,? says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer.

Mr Brewer today released two photographs as current examples to highlight his point ? one showing very long grass immediately out the front of Point Chevalier Library and the other showing knee-high grass along a kilometre-strip at the back of the Ellerslie Racecourse. Both areas have clearly not been mown for months.

He has reported these and encourages others to ring the council and Auckland Transport on (09) 301-0101 to report long grass in such areas.

?It?s also becoming clear that Auckland Transport is not delivering on its policy promises such as mowing berms that aren?t directly accessible to properties, on steeper gradients, and in front of unoccupied properties. In many cases that simply doesn?t seem to be happening.

?This is not about the little berms outside the posh homes in the flash streets. Most of them remain nicely mown. This is mostly about road reserves with no residential guardianship, the elderly, those on low-incomes, recent migrants, and tenants who in many cases are just not in a position to start maintaining the council?s berms. It?s insulting that our elderly and unwell are being asked to produce medical certificates.

?This is nothing less than a service cut when at the same time many in the Auckland City area have had rates increases of 30 percent over the last three years under this Len Brown council.

Will grass be the undoing of Len Brown?

A open letter to Len Brown from a reader about Bushy Berms

A reader emailed me and asked to post an Open Letter to Len Brown about the bushy berms and why he is protesting.

Berms in Auckland

Georges Berms don’t even have paved edges

Dear Len

Firstly I’d like to start by saying I don’t like you. I can’t complain about you being mayor of Auckland as I didn’t vote in the last election and that’s my problem, I recognise you as the elected mayor and I actually blame myself for you becoming mayor. That doesn’t mean I have to like you as the mayor.

I’m writing to say why I am protesting about you ceasing to mow my berm and in turn I refuse to mow it myself.

In the last 2 years you have pushed my rates up by 20%, both years you have wanted to put my rates up by 14% but have generously *cough* capped them at 10% so its safe to say my rates will go up another 10% next year, 30% in 3 years, nice!

Now I discover through the media that you stopped mowing my berm in July, why didn’t you tell me this? Is it because I don’t like you? Surely we can be professional about this? And what is your reasoning? To save $13-18m per year. $18m divided by 500k houses is $36/year, not a patch on what you have been reaming me by with the rates increases!? Read more »