Monthly Newsletter

Council Workplan

Council have signed off its workplan for the year beginning July 1,2019 and its good news for our Orakei Ward. In fact I heard somebody say it was” groundbreaking success for Orakei”. Never before has the Orakei Ward had three major, flagship council projects in motion at one time.

There is money in this years budget for the Gowing Drive to Selwyn College link into to the Orakei Shared path which has been the Orakei Local Boards priority budget this term.

All local Boards put up one main project they wanted funded in the next ten years. Some have to wait a few years but Orakei has been prioritized for this year. This year will also see further investment into Colin Maiden Park with 2x new hockey turfs which are much needed and align to the Colin Maiden Park Masterplan that I know many of you inputted into when I was local board chair. Parnell Baths upgrade ( remember Parnell is now in the Orakei Ward ) has had their upgrade but the funding was split over two years. Orakei Local Board has also had its local transport capital fund doubled to enable it to make even more decisions on Transport projects you want to see delivered and extra extra transport budget to help deliver specific projects to reduce death and serious injury accidents in the Ward.

Church Rates

You will remember Council staff had proposed significant rates increases for religious institutions without any political direction and with, in some cases, only 2 weeks notice. Some churches impacted had their rates increase upwards of $20,000. I believed this was wrong and we should consult Aucklanders as to their views before accepting that these Council staff suggested rate increases were acceptable. My colleagues agreed with me. Consultation was done and the response from our Orakei Ward matched that of the response of wider Auckland that we should have non-rating of religious use properties. As always I voted to support this based on the response from those living in the Orakei Ward.

Auckland Transport's Multiple pedestrian crossings and ‘safety projects’ in Mission Bay and St Heliers

I am pleased to advise (although I’m sure you know) that AT’s suggested plans for both these areas are off the table. A working group has been set up in both Mission bay and St Heliers with members consisting of those from the relative residents associations, business associations, local board and myself. The Mission bay group has met 2x and St Heliers will have its first meeting this month. The very first job is to check that there is indeed evidence to support investment, then look at what, if any, improvements could happen and take these back to the community for input. If you have any ideas I strongly suggest you contact one of the two residents associations or myself.

Mission Bay/Kohimarama Residents Assoc chair@missionbaykohi.org.nz

St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Assoc chair@stheliers.org.nz

Update on Tamaki Drive

Many of you may be wondering why we have had multiple road cones along Tamaki Drive.

Built in the depression Tamaki Drive has really fared pretty well considering its age, but water has been creeping under the seal and causing damage.

In June, Auckland Transport undertook work on Tamaki drive’s curbs and channels in preparation for future road resealing. Problems with Tamaki drive curbs and channels ranged from: curbs that had been pushed down; sections of channel that were broken (and therefore no longer keeping water from under the road); to channels that were not draining properly due to age related level problems.

Functioning curb and channel systems are crucial to keep water out from under the road pavement. They also deliver water to the storm water system, via the catch pits in the road helping to prevent flooding.

Auckland Transport are also going to resurface the footpath on the seaward side prior to resealing of Tamaki Drive. However they will first finish the upgrading of the catch pits over the next two weeks. The footpath will then be surfaced and re-levelled, hopefully by early August, followed by road resealing which will get underway around August – September. All will be completed in time for the upcoming summer season ( so I’m told) Thank you for your patience while work is in progress.

Rats

Native plants don’t fruit every year but when conditions are right the fruit all at once. This gives rats a wonderful food source. Add to this a long warm summer and a mild autumn and you get rats breeding more prolifically than usual. In St Heliers we have seen a number of large rat holes appear beside the wooden board walk and behind some park benches at the eastern end of the beach. Council is doing a number of things to help address the rat problem. We have added two new rubbish bins that do not have open tops so any rubbish in them, especially food scraps, are not accessible to the rats. We have added a number of bait stations which we start by tempting rats to know there is always food there and then that food is gradually swapped for poison. Rats take the poison back below ground and to put it simply, go to sleep and don’t wake up. The St Heliers Business Assoc. have also been a great help by encouraging retailers to secure their rubbish extra tightly when they put it out and requesting Council to collect the rubbish in the evening as opposed to first thing in the morning. Rats feed at night. But you can help too. The Eastern Bays Songbird project have been a huge help giving out rat traps to residents. I have one. They are very easy to set with peanut butter and please don’t panic if you catch one. They come and dispose of it if needed!!

You can get your rat trap at the next St Heliers Market day on July 27 starting at 10 am in St Heliers Village.

Auckland’s Water shortage

While it may seem that we have recently been treated to dam-replenishing rainfall, the water shortage is unfortunately not expected to get better within the month.

We’ve had six months of historically low rainfall and our water storage is sitting at just below 60 per of capacity – Well below the historic average of 84 per cent for this time of year.

This is why Watercare has asked Aucklander’s to do their bit to conserve water. If we continue on as normal, Auckland may face specific restrictions later in the year – Right when we’d prefer to be living it up in the summer sun and cooling off with plenty of fresh water.

So, try to be water wise this winter by taking shorter showers, washing only full loads of laundry and being mindful of your usage.

Mission Bay Development (de Fontain site)

Hearings start on this 30 July and go through to August 6. The Mission Bay Residents Assoc. will be presenting at this hearing arguing that the proposed development is not consistent with the objectives and policies of the Unitary Plan. This view is shared by the OLB who will also be presenting (noting by legislation they are the elected arm of Council who are asked opinion- not councillors).

What to have your say on

Hobson Bay Walkway – potential extension from Wilsons Beach to Shore Rd

About the Hobson Bay walkway - Wilson's Beach to Shore Road Reserve

Have your say on the proposed Hobson Bay walkway from Wilson's Beach to Shore Road Reserve.

https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz:443/have-your-say/topics-you-can-have-your-say-on/hobson-bay-walkway/Pages/default.aspx

Climate Change Actions – The recent vote on Auckland declaring a Climate Emergency meant nothing really.

The decision came with no financial or legal implications. This is YOUR chance to have your say on what you think and the actions suggested.

About Auckland's Climate Action Framework

Have your say on the Auckland Climate Action Framework which will coordinate our efforts to reduce emissions and reduce the impacts of climate change.

https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz:443/have-your-say/topics-you-can-have-your-say-on/auckland-climate-action-framework/Pages/default.aspx

Finally, for those living/working and visiting Parnell, Auckland Transport are consulting on a proposed Residential Parking Zone for Parnell East and some safety improvements in the same area

https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/residential-parking-zone-in-parnell-east-and-safety-improvements/

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

Putting the CONTROL back into Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) – especially Auckland Transport

Transport is an essential and unavoidable part of virtually every Aucklander’s life. The way that infrastructure and transport services are  delivered affect the way that residents move around their city. Whether you walk, cycle, drive, or use public transport, you’ve almost certainly encountered New Zealand’s largest Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) – Auckland Transport (AT)

Along with being the largest CCO, Auckland Transport is also the most unusual. It has not the usual one, but three pieces of legislation that govern them and their actions. As a CCO, Auckland Transport is responsible to Council through monthly reporting to local boards, and quarterly reporting to the Mayor and Councilors.

As an elected representative of Auckland, I ask myself – ‘how has Auckland Transport performed for the people of Auckland?’

In short, what AT has done well, they have done very well. However, in other situations where AT has performed poorly, they have performed incredibly poorly. So what has AT done well? Public transport projects and services are an undoubted success of this CCO. Public Transport user numbers are well ahead of initial projections. Very soon we will see 100 million public transport trips per year, up from 57 million prior to the supercity formation in 2010.

However, the following issues have been dealt with very, very poorly:

•             On-going Quay St congestion;

•             Parnell Business Association only getting one weeks’ notice that AT were closing one lane of Parnell Rd for two weeks;

•             Remuera’s Clonbern Rd Carpark top level being closed without notice to Remuera Business Association;

•             The whole debacle over the proposal to remove several carparks and add a whole lot of raised pedestrian crossings in St Heliers and Mission Bay, with very little evidence (some say no evidence) to support these proposals;

•             Add that to a ‘no show’ at a public meeting, which had in excess of 600 people in attendance.

There have been huge problems. In my opinion, the heart of all the issues lies with their communication and engagement – or should I say the lack of it.

What can be done?

Legally there is only one tool with which the mayor and councilors can use to hold this ‘arm’s length’ CCO’s to account. It’s called the Statement of Intent process.

Under legislation, each CCO is required in their Statement of Intent to:

1.       Outline their intentions and activities for the forthcoming year

2.       Provide an opportunity for shareholders to influence the direction of the CCO

3.       Provide a basis of accountability for the directors of the CCO to its shareholders

Whilst these are great objectives, in my opinion, the way they have been interpreted hasn’t worked for Auckland. 

In August 2018, I moved a resolution for council staff to undertake a review of the statement of intent process for our CCOs.

Following that action, in February this year I further moved the scope for the CCO review. Then, again in April, along adding more detail to all CCOs, I specifically put up ten resolutions to tighten our control over Auckland Transport as part of the next year’s Statement of Intent process.

Surprisingly to me, no other Councillor had ever done this before. In fact I was the first to officially tell AT very clearly that their engagement and communication was unsatisfactory.

With the support of the Mayor ( who seconded my resolutions) and nine other councilors, the resolution was passed- not unanimously but passed. AT were  also directed to report on congestion reduction (as some say that AT are making matters worse). Another one of my resolutions now requires AT’s attendance at any public meeting should they be asked by a Councillor or if a local board resolve as such. Remember the St Heliers Business Association and St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association co-hosted a public meeting in St Heliers, with over 600 people present, but AT chose not to attend.

So where are we with Auckland Transport (AT) and their plans for Mission Bay and St Heliers?

Thank you to those who did turn  up in St Heliers for the public meeting. I can only apologise (again) that Auckland Transport did not show up for this meeting (as expected), so did not explain their position and reasoning behind their suggested ‘safety improvements.’

Your attendance and submissions did make a difference.

In both cases (Mission Bay and St Heliers) the residents associations and the business associations have done a tremendous job liaising through me with AT. They have now both been told by Auckland Transport that all engineering solutions are off the table.

Working groups for both areas have now been set up. These consist of representatives from the respective residents and business associations, local board and myself.

In Mission Bay’s case, the first meeting has already happened. This covered, amongst other things, commitment to get an independent review of the data which led AT to develop their suggested ‘improvements.’

With St Heliers, we are waiting on agreement between AT and the residents and business association re a couple of issues and then the working group will meet and work through issues similar to Mission Bay.

As I sit on both working parties, I will keep you updated on progress each month via this newsletter.

CRL- is it a financial ‘blow out’, expected increase or still a tentative figure?

Short answer- we still do not know how much this project will actually cost.

I wasn’t a Councillor when agreement was reached to fund and deliver this project. So, I wasn’t one of the Councillors who agreed twice to a 50/50 cost share split with government, nor a Councillor who agreed to the former ‘cost’ when agreeing to the project in 2014. However, what every Councillor (including me) did agree to this Council term, was increasing the rider capacity of the CRL by 50%. This involves extending the length of train platforms to accommodate trains of up to 9 carriages in length (up from a previous maximum of 6 carriages per train.)

Why? Because time and time again we deliver projects that take so long to be delivered that, shortly after they open, they are already at or exceeding their user capacity.

There are currently 21 million train boarding’s per year across Auckland. Rail transport ridership has more than doubled in the last 5 years and is projected to continue to be a strongly supported as a desirable public transport option into the future.

Further to these ever-increasing train use statistics, we know that it would be incredibly difficult to increase the capacity of the CRL once it is complete. This is because the project is largely located underground. Staff say to extend the stations to meet demand after completion would require the whole CRL route to be closed for 2 years so that workers could safely deliver the extensions. That would hardly be practical for Auckland! Increasing capacity now ensures far better value for money than completing remedial works shortly after.

 So what was actually agreed in 2014?

Councillors and the then mayor agreed to go ahead with the CRL on the cost estimate of $3.4 billion. This figure was an estimate only and there have been significant changes in the construction climate in general since then.

There has been a significant increase in demand for infrastructure construction in Australasia since 2014.

Increases in demand always lead to price increases in industries where it is difficult to quickly expand supply – like high-level infrastructure construction.

It is only natural that a 2019 estimate is more accurate than the projections that were made back in 2014, before construction even began.

Since 2014, the cost of the CRL has seemingly ballooned by $1 billion on the previous estimate from 2014. However, it was always expected by Council that costs would change between the 2014 estimate through to the CRL’s completion in 2024.

What will the extra money be spent on?

The revised cost envelope of $4.419 billion reflects higher costs in four key areas:

  • Contingency and escalation costs ($310 million)

  • Construction increase costs ($327 million)

  • Accommodating longer, nine-car trains ($250 million)

  • Non-direct cost ($152 million)

Where is the money going to come from? Of the billion-dollar increase, Auckland Council is required to contribute one half of the extra cost and Central Government will foot the rest.

What is the best news of all, is that all of the additional $500 million Council contribution will be paid without the need for a corresponding rate increase. This is due to smarter financial management of Council matters – not budget cutting!

Saying NO to government controlling our parks.

It was a bit of a shock to see that this government was wanting to take back control over how some of our parks and reserves are managed.

Last month we were advised that Council’s authority to effectively manage Auckland’s parks and reserves was severely threatened by a proposal from central government to revoke 44 of the 50 Ministerial powers delegated to local authorities under the Reserves Act. If this occurred, it would undermine grass root, local decision-making and lead to inevitable delays and costs caused by the need to seek Ministerial approval for the majority of actions currently undertaken by Local Boards and Ward Councillors.

To add to its illogical reasoning, no justification for the proposal was provided. It is also completely unclear what problem, if any, it was supposed to fix – there is a saying - if it ‘ain’t broke don’t fix it!

So, I moved a resolution this month at Environment and Community Committee supporting a submission against the change.  It was unanimously supported.

Our submission will now go to the Department of Conservation and we will receive a report on that in August.  However, we still don’t know when the final decision will be made. In the meantime,  Council stays in control of its Parks and reserves.

What’s coming up this month?

Freedom Camping  By-Law decision…..( I’m not at all happy where this has ended up. My only decision to date has been to take this to consultation)

Release of third quarter financial results ( how are we tracking re debt, savings and spend)

Value for money results

Climate Emergency (  do we have one? - should we declare one?)

Finally

I have decided to put my hand up and stand again for the position of Auckland Councillor representing the Orakei Ward in the forthcoming October elections. With the boundary changes now bringing Parnell, Newmarket and Grafton into the Orakei Ward, I thought it appropriate to officially launch my intention when I spoke to Parnell Rotary on June 5.

Without doubt, it would be a great honour to continue supporting the communities and residents from the Orakei Ward after October.

Thank you

Desley Simpson

Monthly Newsletter

Public Meeting TONIGHT on Auckland Transport's !@#%^& ideas for St Heliers (and Mission Bay)

Monday April 15 7pm -8.30pm at the Presbyterian Church and Community Centre, 100 St Heliers Bay Rd

I have been working with the business and residents representatives from St Heliers and Mission Bay to respond to the proposed ‘speed mitigation’ works suggested by Auckland Transport for both of these areas.

As I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters I am not at all convinced they come with evidence based reasoning, nor do they have business impacts or congestion data to substantiate their ideas.
 
The St Heliers Residents Assoc. have invited Auckland Transport to a public meeting to explain their suggested ‘safety improvements’ for the St Heliers business district. This meeting is TONIGHT at the St Heliers Community Centre, 100 St Heliers Bay road. I hope to see you there.
 
Having consulted last month on the lowering of speed within the village to 30 kms (and 30 kms in Mission bay) they are now asking your thoughts as to further speed mitigation/safety works. ( why they didn’t do these together astounds me)
 
Auckland Transports changes for St Heliers business district include 13 raised pedestrian crossings resulting and the removal of at least 40 carparks and potentially 30kms speed reduction
Mission Bay is proposed to have 11 new pedestrian crossings and a roundabout.

Come and ask your questions at the meeting or if you can’t attend please go to https://at.govt.nz/about-us/have-your-say/ and have your say.
Consultation closes 30 April.
 

Parnell Rd being reduced to one lane

I was outraged to discover Auckland Transport had given Parnell businesses less than a weeks notice of impending roadworks that will close a lane of traffic down Parnell Road for 2 weeks including Easter diverting traffic down St Stephens Ave, Gladstone Rd and The Strand in an already congested route (sound familiar?). For retailers, cafes and restaurants this simply doesn’t give them enough time to plan for the changes. Auckland Transport also didn’t think to communicate their detours or closures to a wider group of commuters including those from our Ward.
 
I’m making further steps this week to try to improve communication from Auckland Transport across many areas. Quite frankly their performance in this area is not at all satisfactory ….in fact its abysmal.  Will keep you posted…
 
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12221077
 

What’s happening to St Kentigern Girls’ School site?

I have had many queries around whether the St Kentigern Girls’ School site, recently up for sale, will be sold for housing. I can reliably confirm that Saint Kentigern trustees sold the Remuera Road site to the Hebrew congregation.

"This outcome follows a competitive tender process in which we were very pleased by the high level of interest shown in the property, and particularly delighted to see that it will now continue to meet the needs of another faith-based community," said Dr John Kernohan, Chairman of the St Kentigern Trust Board.
"We understand that the Auckland Hebrew Community may also be using some of the campus as an educational facility, which sits very well with its heritage with both Saint Kentigern and Corran School before us.”

The designation of the site under the Auckland Unitary Plan is Special Purpose – School. Any changes of use would require a plan change. I will continue to keep you updated as the handover progresses.
 
 

Mayor to speak at Meadowbank & St Johns Residents Association AGM- Tuesday night

Mayor Phil Goff will be the guest speaker at the Meadowbank & St Johns Residents Association AGM from 7pm at St Chads Church and Community Centre, 38 St Johns Rd, Meadowbank on Tuesday Night ( April 16)
 
There will also be discussion of many issues of interest including those specifically relative to Meadowbank and St Johns. I’ll be there too.
 

New Playground opening – Wairua Reserve, Remuera.

Every 3 years when local board members and councillors potentially change there is a corresponding "re set" of work programmes. Just because something was agreed and even started, does not mean it will come into fruition with new representatives.  Last term when I was chair of the Orakei Local Board, we started the upgrade of the playground at Wairua Reserve. What made this project particularly special was we went to St Kentigern Girls’ School ( which is across the road from the Wairua Reserve)  and worked with the students there letting them actually design the playground. This way we really knew it would be a playground by children for children. Last week these students saw their plans and design work realised with the official opening of the new playground. Thanks to the OLB for continuing the work and delivering the finished product.
 

Central Interceptor – Making our waterways in central Auckland cleaner

This huge underground tunnelling project which will make a huge difference to our area got a step closer with the signing of the contract between Watercare and an Italian company with 5 generations of tunnelling experience on March 14. I was there with the mayor to experience this milestone. The central interceptor is a 13km wastewater tunnel that, when built, will be the largest of its type in New Zealand. It will without doubt have a significant impact on our water quality and the ability for many parts of Auckland to cope with growth. Particularly for us, it will markedly increase capacity for the Orakei ward as 80% of the wastewater currently flowing through the Orakei sewer line will be diverted to the new tunnel freeing capacity in our existing line.
 

Quay St….its not getting any better

Media have finally run a story on Quay Street congestion. You can read the story here
 
My quote and one I stand by was “ To reduce Quay St to one lane knowing thousands of vehicles use it on a daily basis, with no advance notice to commuters re alternative options, and when Customs St is full of  construction is planning madness”
 
Something has to be done about putting the control back into Council Controlled Organisations such as Auckland Transport. I have a plan……………..

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=12221884

Why I supported Eden Park for a grant

Eden Park is not owned or managed by Auckland Council. Unlike other stadiums such as Western Springs and Mt Smart, Eden Park does not come under the suite of facilities managed by Regional Facilities ( a CCO or Council controlled organization tasked by the supercity legislation to  manage council owned facilities )

However, it’s an important stadium for Auckland and this Council has finally made the decision to include it when we get to discuss the final details of what our stadium strategy should look like for our region as a whole.

It has debt though. This debt has been historic with Council as the guarantor. The debt of $40 m arose from the redevelopment of the Park for the Rugby World Cup in 2011 which the former singular councils at the time agreed to contribute to and yet when contribution was called for, they reneged. ( note - some of the Councillors around todays table were Councillors of past Councils then)

So Eden Park was left to manage that debt, and as a result struggled to repay it. Council  ( as guarantor) had no choice but to take over the debt. In doing so we have saved Eden Park some money in interest, as our interest rates are more favourable. However Council resolved ( with my support) to continue to charge them interest and then a bit more ( still  better  for them than what they had with the  Bank). Why? It’s a lot of money and we need to be prudent too.

So why are they unable to pay off their debt?

The interest payments on their debt have been costly, about $15m since 2011. Council itself hasn’t helped either. We charge them rates ( Wellington based Westpac Stadium doesn’t pay rates) and these aren’t  insignificant . Thanks to Unitary Plan rules, they can only hold a maximum of 6 concerts a year as a discretionary activity.   Concerts make money for stadiums, but our rules and time around consenting for concerts they wish to host is long, costly, arduous and not at all guaranteed. This needs to change and there is work happening around that.

So why a grant and not, as the mayor suggested, a loan? ( noting nobody disagreed with  the actual amount)

First, trust and confidence. Up until a week before the Mayor and Councillors were to resolve on the issue, our staff had agreed with Eden Park representatives that there would be extra money in the form of a grant. This had been worked on for many, many months. To change our mind from grant to a loan at the ninth hour, wasn’t, in my opinion, working in good faith.

Second reason - It’s what we usually do with other organisations and groups. We give grants, they are supported with funding agreements which stipulate details around those grants, rules to follow, accountability etc… Some previous grant examples include those to the  Vodafone Events Centre, Trusts Stadium ( Waitakere City Stadium Trust), ASB Tennis Arena and even our Orakei Wards own Hyundai Marine Sports Centre ( newly built  Royal Akarana Yacht Club building)  by way of only a few examples. Why should Eden Park be treated differently?

Third reason, advice from the auditor general. The auditor General designed a good practice guide titled Principles to underpin management by public entities of funding non government organisations. This document clearly talks about grants not loans. In fact it specifically talks about sustainability of funding (remember Eden Park already has a big debt problem, it is not therefore helpful or good practice, to add to it) and the document also refers to fairness ( see second reason)

So was the grant a gift?

 No. Like all grants it comes with rules and stipulations which the Chief Executive through his staff compiles. It’s a grant UP TO $9.8m over three years. It’s not a set amount per year, it’s a funding envelope available to be applied for specific capital spend. ( I know one priority is turf replacement, which is twice its ideal 7 year age limit for use)

So in conclusion what I proposed was fair, was based on months of understanding and aligned with guidelines from the auditor general. It is only for 3 years, and whilst adding Eden Park into our stadium portfolio potentially saves ratepayers hundreds of millions in refurbishment of our own venues, it doesn’t preclude a bigger discussion sometime in the future around building a new stadium somewhere else.

Speed Limits Bylaw and Quay Street update

As promised, I write with an update following my meeting with Auckland Transport regarding the Speed Limits Bylaw and associated consultation and an update on Quay St works.

 

Proposed 30kph changes

 

Right now I am not yet 100% convinced that the evidence is there to support a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 30km speed zone for all vehicles on all streets within the city centre (CBD) and streets within Mission Bay and St Heliers.

 

I say that as:

1.       I have yet to receive the evidence of 50 kms being wrong relative to these areas

2.       It’s acceptable for a higher speed of 40 kms to apply to school zones yet not in the CBD or St Heliers and Mission Bay.

3.       I don’t know what else is planned for the by-law to be enabled (AT say it will need more than signage changes, it will need engineering solutions but haven’t confirmed what they are)

 

Auckland Transport (AT) spoke of the urgent need to reduce death and serious injury figures. We discussed, at some length, the tension between this honourable intention and the need to keep traffic moving. There is no price on a life but we are also told that congestion is costing our city between $1.5 and $2B per annum.

 

AT do claim that they can do both – slow down traffic to 30km/h and improve traffic flow – citing international research that shows a reduction in speed limits can actually speed up traffic. They offered to provide copies of this research but have not done so as yet, despite my office following up.

 

Many of you have written to me in the past requesting pedestrian behaviour should be better managed – it is absolutely frightening to have someone step from the footpath onto the road into the path of your vehicle without looking. That’s actually one of the drivers (pardon the pun) around the slower limits. They want to ensure that even if people make mistakes it shouldn’t cost them their life.  

 

An argument against is to point out the lack of pedestrian safety campaigns that target pedestrian behaviour. Should this not be explored before undertaking a change of this magnitude?

 Hobson St has more people living on it than any other street in NZ; it’s currently a 50 km road leading onto the motorway which has a speed limit of 80-100kms. Because of this, there are lights and crossings at relatively close intervals throughout the length of the street, yet people are crossing everywhere and anywhere with no regard for where cars are coming from. Only last year somebody died jaywalking across Hobson St. AT say that potentially that death could have been prevented if vehicles were going at 30 kms rather than 50 kms.

 

Another campaign I suggested is a reminder stop when people are waiting at pedestrian crossings. This is common in some European countries where speed isn’t necessarily lower but drivers know to stop for pedestrians. I’m told 50% of deaths and serious injuries are at or near crossings, so I think this idea should have been looked at too.

 

Now in some suburban areas (I know Meadowbank is one), communities are requesting lower speed limits in residential streets. ‘Rat running’ in narrow streets is causing concern for residents and AT are very willing to look at speed management options to assist.

 

Please make sure you have your say if you think a lower speed limit is right for your area and encourage your neighbours to have their say too.

 

Central City speed changes

 

Below please find the map showing the central city area where reduced speed limits are proposed. There are some streets proposed to go from 50 kms to 10 kms (a better version you can zoom in on can be found here).

 

CBD 30km.JPG
key.JPG


I have concerns around the timings of these changes, that I discussed with AT. The bylaw is proposed to take effect in August this year, five years before the Central City Rail loop is completed to finally provide an east/west public transport link; and while the level of construction is at an all time high limiting alternate routes with road cones and lane closures.

 

Mission Bay Village and St Heliers Village

 

Mission Bay and St Heliers are the two ‘town centres’ in the Orakei region where AT are proposing speed reduction from 50 kms to 30km/h.

 

They are currently seeking input on this proposal, however there is a second aspect that will be consulted on in the future: engineering solutions.

 

Changing to 30km/h does not simply involve changing the speed signs and hoping Police enforce it – Auckland Transport will design and build a series of engineered speed calming measures. The trouble is they will not confirm what those solutions will be until after the speed bylaw consultation is over.

 

Pictured below are the drafts given to me by AT of those solutions. I am told they are likely to be adjusted but here is what I have been provided thus far.

 

Mission Bay

Mission Bay.JPG

Engineering works at Mission Bay would include 9 new raised crossings, and the raising of one existing crossing. A new roundabout would also be constructed. The estimated number of carparks lost here is 10-15.


St Heliers

 

St Heliers.JPG

St Heliers would have 12 additional raised pedestrian crossings constructed, and an additional three existing zebra crossings converted into raised pedestrian crossings. Many of the new crossings are currently pedestrian refuges.

 

32 carparks would be lost as a result of these ‘solutions’ but AT say they are ‘trying to minimise this’.

 

Have Your Say- Tuesday 19 March, 3pm-5.30pm St Heliers Library

 

I pushed for an extension of time for the drop in session for people to learn more from AT representatives in St Heliers. This was denied by AT. People who commute through St Heliers and Mission Bay – especially through into the central city are significantly impacted and should have the opportunity to hear from AT. It’s a shame they cannot be accommodated.

 

Please join me if you can. Tuesday 19 March, 3pm to 5:30pm - St Heliers Library, 32 St Heliers Bay Road, St Heliers.

 

Auckland Transport Chairman Lester Levy committed his attendance to me for a local session on the speed by law. I am disappointed that despite regular requests, we still do not have the time he will attend. I will advise you as soon as I know.

 

Please, please ensure you tell Auckland Transport your views on the proposed speed by law.

 

You can submit your feedback online here: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/safe-speeds-programme/speed-limit-changes-around-auckland/

 

Feedback closes on 31 March. If successful, speeds will be reduced on 20 August 2019.

 

Quay Street update

 

I also met separately with officials to discuss Quay Street. Although officers were much more responsive to the concerns I raised, there are limitations.

 

Closing two lanes of traffic (one each way) was needed for urgent wharf strengthening works. The footprint of these works and the time needed for completion does not allow a return to four lanes, even temporarily.

 

Instead, they have agreed to investigate sequencing and other changes to Customs Street and the surrounds – and to work with NZTA who manage The Strand – as we work to mitigate the subsequent congestion chaos.

 

Those are the small changes but there is much more to do here at a larger scale.

 

I am advised there are approximately  33,000 vehicles travelling into the CBD from the Orakei Ward, and beyond, each day that we are trying to funnel through an increasingly narrow bottle neck. There have been alterations to the bus routes, but until the City Rail Link is built (and that isn’t due for completion until 2024) we also lack a true public transport connection into and through the CBD.

 

AT want our east/west route to travel via the Strand onto the motorway and back off again with new off ramps. However, NZTA have yet to prioritise new motorway offramps that allow this ‘unusual route’ to even be a viable alternative.

 

After the complete lack of communication last year on Quay St lane closures which prevented Orakei residents from sufficiently preparing for the change, the AT team have promised regular updates for me to share with you.

 

My Auckland Transport relationship has had a tense start to the year, and I am not happy with all their proposed changes, but I give you my assurance that I will work positively to try get the results you need and request and keep you informed of progress.

 

What's Happening Around The Town Hall Table

Quay Street

I am continuing to pursue all avenues to mitigate the chaos caused by the reduction of Quay Street from four lanes to two over Christmas.

Predictably, this decision has created bottlenecks for those travelling into the CBD from Tamaki Drive. Additionally, many residential streets in Orakei have reported dealing with heavy vehicle movements as freight drivers seek to avoid the congestion by accessing the motorway at Greenlane. We now have children cycling to school on unmarked cycle lanes alongside container trucks.

I wrote to Shane Ellison on 15 January 2019 and again on 31 January 2019 as I had not received a response. Copies of my letters are available on my website. I eventually received most of a response on 8 February 2019.

They did not offer an apology for the lack of communication regarding the changes, feeling a note in a verbal presentation to the Planning Committee around wharf strengthening was sufficient. They could not provide me with vehicle movement numbers or reasons why the proposed alternative routes were not trialed ahead of the change. They did claim that vehicle numbers would be reviewed and ‘we will share this data with you as we assess it in the coming weeks.’ I would have appreciated a baseline to compare this data to, should I receive it. I am in ongoing discussions re this information.

There is however, a need to undertake works to strengthen the wharf. This planned upgrade will also support the Downtown Programme and seeks to alter Quay Street from a through road to a destination, with improved connectivity between city and waterfront. It is a laudable aim but should have been delivered without this level of congestion and confusion and with a long lead in time for those who have, and do, use this route regularly. There is no new public transport option available yet which adds to the poor timing decision I believe they have made.

I am advised the situation at present is not the long-term stable traffic management layout, though the footprint of the works prevents the road from returning to double lanes each way. They will make adjustments. They will ( that’s not have)  alter traffic lights and signal phasing. They will return turning pockets at intersections. They will continue to keep me updated, they say.

Meanwhile, the disruption continues…

I have another meeting on this issue on Monday morning, so will update further after that.

 

Annual Budget Consultation

Auckland Council’s Annual Budget for the 2019-2020 financial year is out for public consultation from 17 February to 17 March. By and large it follows the Long Term Plan but there are a few amendments that are specific to particular parts of Auckland (including waste rates for parts of the North Shore, Rural Urban Boundary adjustments and changes to rates for Septic tanks).

The main region wide issue is the proposal to change the rating policy to clarify Council’s rating of Religious Properties to make it clear what is and is not rateable. I wrote about Church rates late last year – you can read more here). Another key component is a $5m investment in reducing chronic homelessness.

 

We are also seeking public feedback to inform the initial formulating of Auckland’s Water Strategy. The Water Strategy will shape Auckland’s policies and provisioning for freshwater, stormwater wastewater as well as management of our rivers, lakes and oceans.

Visit www.akhaveyoursay.nz to make your submission today!

 

NZIER ( NZ Institute of Economic Research) mark Auckland Council reports

I volunteered to chair the Quality Advice Political Advisory Group as I had been critical regarding the quality of reports we had received, as decision makers, in the past.

I am incredibly proud of our staff who not only met the very high targets I set – I was told at one point I had set them too high – but also sought out the scrutiny of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research to benchmark the quality of reporting and advice given to elected members.

The NZIER result has just been announced with Auckland Council at the very top of the table for local government and 6th overall for all government departments – we even achieved a higher score than the office of the Prime Minister.

The work continues as we aim higher again this year.

 

Auckland Transport Speed Bylaw Public meeting

Auckland Transport will be consulting on their proposal for a new Auckland Speed Bylaw from 27 February to 31 March. I will be releasing a short additional newsletter focused on this early next week following a meeting with executives. Currently I have some  concerns re their consultation material and their process for people to have their say.

 

Temporary suspension of the Lime Scooter

The temporary suspension on Lime Scooters was lifted on Friday. Auckland Council and Auckland Transport had temporarily suspended the Lime e-scooter trial while the company investigated a fault where scooter wheels locked up while in use.

The trial period finishes at the end of March when the information collected during the trial phase can be used to make a fully informed long term decision on Lime (and their potential competitors) place on the streets of Auckland. Should you wish to share your views with me please do so – email is best.

 

Karaka Berries

A few weeks ago several dog owners contacted me with concerns the water quality at Orakei Basin following the death of at least two dogs that had been exercised popular dog exercising area.

While vets were unable to confirm the exact cause of death, some of you suspected toxic algae or possibly even sea slugs could be at fault.

In response the Council did some additional testing and the results have come back clear of toxic algae as expected.  Staff also did a visual inspection of the area and found no sign of sea slugs.

A reminder though, that there are several karaka trees at the basin that are currently producing berries, which can be extremely toxic or even fatal for dogs if ingested. There are now warning signs in place.

 

Ban on the sale of fireworks

Auckland was asked the question on whether fireworks should be banned for individual sale and left for public displays. From those Aucklanders who took the time to respond 89% wanted them banned. From those who responded in the Orakei Ward 88% wanted them banned. So as I have always said I would, I voted as per my Wards feedback and with the majority of Councillors called on the government to ban the sale of fireworks to the public and end individual purchase. It needs to be noted that Auckland Council does not have the power to enact a ban without central government support.

Feedback overwhelming raised concerns about the safety of children and animals; and the impact of the noise on neighbourhood.

 

Council Controlled Organisations

I very often hear feedback from the community that there is no ‘control’ in council controlled organisations ( particularly  Auckland Transport) . This is an ongoing source of frustration that I am trying to address through my role as deputy chair of the Finance and Performance Committee.

I moved a resolution on 19 February for council staff to undertake a review of the statement of intent process for our CCOs.  Under legislation, each CCO is required in their statement of intent to

1.       Outline their intentions and activities for the forthcoming year

2.       Provide an opportunity for shareholders to influence the direction of the CCO

3.       Provide a basis of accountability for the directors of the CCO to its shareholders

 

Whilst these are great objectives, the way they are being interpreted in my opinion isn’t working, so they need revision and tighter guidelines.

 

 The review will establish the outcomes expected from the statement of intent process, outline the issues, opportunities and challenges to achieve those outcomes, and identify options for improving the statement of intent process.

This is the best process we have to address our concerns and I commend my colleagues for supporting this review.

Sadly, the process means the review won’t be concluded until November 2019. This means it will not be completed in time to be applied to the 2019-2022 SOIs; but changes will be effective from the 2020-2023 SOIs onwards.

 

Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission is conducting an inquiry into local government funding and financing. This is key to our financing of projects and workstreams as we can’t do all we want to do just with rates income. I was pleased to move the resolution to adopt the Auckland Council submission through the February Finance and Performance Committee.

The submission reflects several of my top priorities including leveraging alternate sources of funding, through partnerships with the crown and the private sector, to keep rates down whilst delivering the level of investment in infrastructure we need. Changes are also sought that would improve the flexibility and effectiveness of our key funding sources- these include asking government to remove the GST on Rates ( or at least return it) , as some say this is a really just a tax on a tax

The Productivity Commission report of its findings is due in November 2019.

December Newsletter

Thank you for your support this year and the hundreds of submissions, emails, phone calls, and Facebook messages – listening to you and responding to your queries and concerns is a key part of my role and one which is very important to me.

A last update before we farewell 2018.

Your views are important

 

There are two Auckland Council consultations open and relevant to our community that I encourage you to submit on. As always, I will be closely following the feedback from the Orakei Ward and supporting your views.

 

 

Palmers Garden Centre and Cafe

 

176-182 Shore Road in Remuera has been leased by Palmers Garden World Limited for the last 15 years. This lease was the result of an agreement between the Minister of Conservation and Auckland Council in 2005. The agreement says that the lease can be extended for a further 15 years, provided it is in the public's interest. Do you want it to stay? Please share your views.

Consultation is open until 12 December 2018.

 

Freedom Camping

 

Some of our visitors to Auckland over summer are ‘campers’ who use our parks and public spaces to overnight while they enjoy the city. Whilst we welcome people to explore the many beaches, parks and tourist spots in this way, we also need to ensure that their presence doesn’t prevent others from also enjoying these spots. The proposed bylaw out for consultation includes preventing freedom campers in such areas as the Michael Joseph Savage memorial and Selwyn Reserve in Mission Bay, while allowing self-contained campervans to park at Orakei Domain and Churchill Park. Consultation is open through to 18 February 2019 with the decision making scheduled for April.

 

 

Auckland Transport Consultation

 

There are also several Auckland Transport consultations open that will shape the way we travel from and around the Orakei area. Again, I encourage you to submit to ensure our communities views are represented.

 

Pedestrian Crossing Improvements

 

A number of pedestrian crossings, identified as higher risk in Auckland Transport crash data, are being investigated for safety updates.

 

·         8 Portland Road, Remuera. Proposed crossing. Submit here.

·         72 Shore Rd, Remuera. Proposed crossing. Submit here.

·         40 Kelvin Rd, Remuera. Proposed crossing. Submit here.

·         107 Kohimarama Rd, Kohimarama. Proposed crossing. Submit here.

·         237 Tamaki Drive, Kohimarama. Proposed crossing. Submit here.

·         217 Riddell Rd, Glendowie. Proposed crossing. Submit here.

 

Regional Public Transport Plan

 

The Regional Public Transport Plan is one of Auckland Transport’s strategic documents for 2018-2028. This plan outlines AT’s proposed public transport network improvements in the coming decade in order to accommodate significant infrastructure projects, such as the City Rail Link, the Eastern Busway, and light rail.

 

It also discusses the prioritisation of buses in some road corridors. Consultation is open until Friday 14 December. Those who are concerned re school bus routes will be particularly interested.

 

Upcoming – 30km/h zones

 

Auckland Transport are also consulting in February on their desire to reduce speed limits to 30km/h in the CBD and the town centres of Mission Bay and St Heliers. The ‘driver’ (pardon the pun) is the fact that a car hitting a pedestrian at 50km/h will be fatal 80% of the time, whereas a car hitting a pedestrian at 30km/h will be fatal 10% of the time.  Whilst I agree with efforts to make our streets safer, I am also very interested in your thoughts as to whether slowing traffic down is the best way to do this when vehicle congestion is such a problem, and we have approximately 33,000 plus cars and buses entering the city from the east. There is also the significant investment we have made on some of our streets separating pedestrians from cyclists, busses and cars. Should we then still slow everyone down when these improvements have been done to increase safety. At time of writing specific dates for consultation are not known so please keep an eye out on my Facebook page or website for further details.

 

Rubbish collections over the holiday period

 

Rubbish and recycling will be collected as normal on Monday 24 December and Monday 31 December.

No collection will take place on Christmas day – the regular Tuesday collection will instead take place on Wednesday 26 December. Similarly, no refuse collection will take place on Tuesday 1 January – it will instead take place on Wednesday 2 January.

From 26-28 December and 2-4 January, refuse and recycling collections will be a day later than usual. Friday collections will be picked up on Saturday.

 

 

Security tips for those going away

 

With many of us heading away for the summer months, I’ve checked in with Neighbourhood Support for some security tips.

 

·         Use timers on radios and lights

·         Cancel newspaper and mail deliveries – consider adding a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker (available at Citizen’s Advice Bureaux)

·         Lock away garden tools and ladders that could be used by a would-be thief to gain access to your home

·         Do not leave a message that you are away and be careful what you post on social media

 

 

Water Quality

 

This summer is the second swimming season that we have had the enhanced Safeswim website which gives the public an up to date forecast of the water quality at any given beach. Auckland’s struggle with water quality is well documented. Combined stormwater and sewerage in older parts of Auckland, many of which are in the Orakei Ward, cause overflows into the harbour when it rains. We also have problems with dry weather sewerage overflows which are usually caused by blockages in the pipes due to things like fats, oils and wet wipes being tipped down the sink or flushed down the toilet. All of this conspires to reduce the quality of our water and create a health risk to swimmers. Last summer about 10% of readings taken at Orakei’s beaches along Tamaki Drive showed that the water failed to meet national water quality guidelines with a further 5% unsafe for children and the elderly.

Having been given a mandate by you to support the water targeted rate I have been working hard to confirm projects in our ward to address this problem. These include, suburban Orakei’s stormwater separation and outlet upgrades at Okahu Bay along with dredging of the Portland Road creek prior to the road raising. Further to this, we will be conducting detailed investigations of the networks in the Judges Bay, Mission Bay and St Heliers areas to identify and eliminate sources of contamination.

While this is taking place, please check Safeswim for water quality information before swimming.

 

 

Pool Safety

 

The leading cause of pre-school children drowning in pools are unsupervised access to pools through faulty gates and barriers, ladders left against the pool and gates propped open, and small portable pools remaining full of water without supervision.

As we move into summer I ask our community to please check their pools are safe. I was devastated to read that an average of three pre-schoolers die in home pool drownings in Auckland every year and hope we can all play our role in preventing this.

 

Boating Safety

 

If you are visiting one of our stunning  islands in the gulf please make sure you check, clean, and seal your gear so we can keep them pest free.

The Harbourmaster has lists of regulations and maps of restricted areas for anyone navigating Auckland’s waters this summer.

Please remember to take and wear lifejackets when boating this summer. A speed restriction of 5 knots applies within 200m of the shore or 50m of another boat or person in the water.

 

Blue Christmas Services

 

There are many in our community for whom Christmas can be a difficult time – particularly those experiencing grief or loss. Blue Christmas services are peaceful and reflective services run through many of our local churches to support those in need through this season. I lost my own father at Christmastime so know how ‘difficult’ this time of year can be. My thoughts go to those who find this time challenging.

 

 

Church rates

 

The legal interpretation of the way churches were rated was not the same prior to Auckland becoming the supercity. Following approaches from several members of the community concerned by the level of rates being levied on property that had previously been identified as non-rateable, I requested that this matter be brought before Councillors for decision making. Council staff had made new rates allocations for the 2018/2019 year without any political input; something I believed was inappropriate.

The Finance and Performance Committee on 20 November decided to hold the rating of religious properties at the 2017/2018 levy for the full 2018/2019 year. Those of whose rates decreased will keep that decrease, but those who received an increased bill will not pay that increase.  I would also especially thank those church representatives who came and spoke at the meeting to assist the mayor and councillors in understanding the issues.

Further proposed changes to the way religious properties are rated, will be consulted upon as part of the Annual Plan between February 17 and March 17 next year. It will be open and transparent and you will have a chance to have your say.

 

Thank you

 

Finally as I look back on 2018, it has been a long, and at times fraught year, but we have achieved some positive change for our region and the Orakei Ward.

 

Re our open space, we have bought a new park in Orakei, - one of 13 new parks for the region. We provided investment for local and sports parks, including Michaels Avenue Reserve and at Colin Maiden. A special highlight was the $750,000 to enable the renewal of the artificial turfs at College Rifles, a key venue for rugby in Orakei and a key part of our sports network. Over the next 10 years we have increased our investment in Parks and Community facilities to $3.7 billion for the region - an increase of 54% from the previous budget.

On top of this I have championed the value for money workstream which is all about getting independent assessors to peer review how we do things, check we are operating efficiently and getting the best value for the ratepayer dollar spent. To date this programme has realised $208m in benefits with more to come as improvements are identified and made. The 2018-2028 Long Term also includes efficiency savings of $61m over the first three years – equivalent to 5% of the Council’s (parent) direct expenditure.

I lobbied NZTA to get the Orakei Basin walkway balustrade lowered, supported locals to fast track the dredging of Martyn Wilson Field in Remuera and worked with Auckland Transport to get a drop off zone for Kings school at no cost to ratepayers,

For the first time in Auckland Councils history I have ensured the local Boards priority project is funded and have as I have promised to do, always voted as per the majority view on your feedback when asked.

In no way is this an exhaustive list….but a small balance against some of the not so positive stories Auckland Council gets.

 

Again, thank you for your support. I couldn’t do what I do without it.

I wish you all the very best seasons greetings and the happiest of summer holidays.

I’m taking a well deserved break myself and I look forward to seeing you all in 2019.

 

Desley