Up until November, our smokefree policy prohibited smoking at council run facilities including; all parks and reserves, Playgrounds, Sportsfields and Skate parks, Council service centres, Local board offices, Libraries, Stadiums, Swimming pools, Community facilities and Halls, Museums and the Zoo, Leisure, recreation and arts centres, train stations and platforms, bus stations, bus shelters and ferry terminals.
Councillors voted to increase our smokefree policy, starting November 2017 to include:
- Plazas, civic squares, shared spaces, urban centres
- The areas around sports clubs on council land
- Al fresco dining areas
Mark Goldstein, local owner of the Mission Bay Cafe, applauded our decision, saying it would do more good than harm. (See Auckland Now story)
An added benefit to the adoption of this policy is that signage to support this is funded regionally and is no longer something left to Local Boards to juggle amongst their many competing priorities for their limited discretionary funding.
Auckland Plan- 30 year vision for Auckland
The Auckland Plan is a set of aspirations and targets for Auckland over the next 30 years. It isn’t a financial plan, but it is a key to setting the direction for the Council organisation to assess its priorities and ultimately does help to determine where it places its efforts and funding. The Auckland Plan was first adopted in 2012 and at present we are in the process of refreshing this document. There will be public consultation on this in tandem with the Long Term Plan in February – March.
In the meantime, while the draft document is being prepared I have been working to ensure that Council reflects the views of Aucklanders via all of their elected representatives by giving our local boards robust input into the development of the document. Local Boards will now receive a formal response as to how their resolutions will be included in the draft. For a plan that can at times seem extremely high level, it is important to keep it grounded with local views – something I think is vital for effective regional governance.
Each year, the council’s budget sets out the amount of rates needed to keep Auckland running. Once the budget is set, we need to work out how much each ratepayer should pay. Your rates bill is determined by a number of factors. The main factor is the total amount of money required to run and invest in the city, and how much income Council can receive from other revenue sources. The other major factors are the Capital Value of the property (CV) and the amount set as the Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC). Capital Value is calculated every three years through the revaluation process. A change in your property’s value does not necessarily mean that your rates will increase or decrease by the amount of this change – instead, your property’s new value will help determine the share of rates you pay. The higher UAGC set in this year’s budget means that the rates bill is less dependent on the Capital Value of a property. An increase in the UAGC is good for anyone paying rates on a property valued at more than the regional median (i.e. most of the Orakei Ward).
Staff Travel Update/Costs.
Over the past months there have been multiple media stories critical of Council performance, these have included articles about staff costs going over budget and highlighting the amount spent on overseas travel by staff. As you all will know, I am dead against wasteful spending and have called for explanations of the facts from the Chief Executive. He has responded and I am now in a position to dispel some myths about them.
First of all, staff travel. Council has an internal policy which serves to minimise the use of travel and imposes strict rules on when business class travel is deemed appropriate. If there are alternatives to physical travel (e.g. Skype) this is the option that staff must take. If they must travel, then economy is the only option, unless the travel is long haul and there is no option to recuperate before the meeting/event. I was supplied with a list of the travel and am satisfied that on a case by case basis most are justifiable expenses. In the interests of transparency (which I have pushed for) , staff travel costs will be published on the council website for all to see. I have also pushed for reasons for that travel to be included as part of travel transparency too.
The mayor has recently returned from a trip to Europe funded in part by Michael Bloomberg. More information about this trip can be found here.
Staff costs have been over budget for the council group consistently for the last three years. This is inexcusable from my perspective. I believe actuals versus budget should be a key performance indicator for our chief executive (see coverage in the NZ Herald).
Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Road Intersection Safety Improvement update
Auckland Transport’s work goes on and the new embankments are taking shape. The road layout will stay in its current configuration until Christmas, and this includes the 30kph speed limit. I travel through this intersection every day and know it has slowed travel times , so thank you all for your patience.
For more information about the multiple transport projects taking place in the Tamaki Drive area, (Intersection improvements, Tamaki Drive Cycle Route, Ngapipi Bridge widening and the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Shared Path) please see the Auckland Transport website for Tamaki Drive improvements here. You can also sign up for regular email updates from Auckland Transport here.
New parking machines coming to Remuera
Over the next few months, Auckland Transport will be upgrading all of Aucklands 810 pay-and-display parking machines to include ‘pay-by-plate’ technology. (One has to wonder about AT’s priorities putting this at the top of their list !?)
The pay-by-plate technology enables customers to enter their registration plate into the machine without the need for a display ticket, making it a faster, more seamless customer experience.
The newly upgraded machines will also include paywave technology to further improve the customer experience. The Text-a-Park payment option will not always be available as part of the new machines as AT Park phone app is considered to be a superior alternative for customers who want to use their phone.
These machines will replace existing Parking meters in Remuera starting in December.
Regional sports grants.
Regional Sports Grant applications are open until 8 December 2017.
Applications are being sought from organisations that are:
• have a region-wide mandate;
• regional federations or groupings of local or sub-regional sports code organisations;
• regional sport and recreation providers or advocacy groups; or
• iwi and other Māori organisations active in the sport and recreation sector.
The funding pool is up to $508,000 and I am looking forward to seeing what opportunities the sporting community have that council can support. If you know anyone who may be part of an organisation who could apply for this please let them know of the opportunity.
More information is on the Council website here.
Conversations with Councillor Coming to St Heliers Library
Following a successful Conversation with your Councillor session at Remuera Library in October, I will be running a similar session at the St Heliers Library from 2:00pm on Friday 17 November. Please come and see me to discuss any Auckland Council related issue, idea or feedback.
More responsibility to local Boards
Council has recently agreed on some updates to the delegations and responsibilities between that of local Boards and Councillors through the Governance Framework Review. Through this review Local Boards have taken extra responsibilities and powers including:
- more local board input into regional policy decisions
- increased engagement with Auckland Transport and a stronger governance role around town centre upgrades and other local streetscape projects
- that the council considers a significant increase to the local transport capital fund through the Long-term Plan (10-year budget) process
- greater decision-making rights over budgets for local services being delivered in local board areas
- that a three-year pilot project of enhanced local board decision-making in Waiheke is implemented from 1 October 2017.
Auckland recognised as a UNESCO Creative City
Auckland has officially been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a music city within the network of Creative Cities. Auckland’s application was endorsed by Council in March. Achieving this status has helped other cities such as Adelaide attract investment and has been linked to an increase in tourism. I’m looking forward to seeing what benefits there are for Auckland’s music industry.
Read more here.
Auckland Council’s upgraded safeswim website is now live. This site gives current and forecast water quality information at our beaches, replacing the older system of regular testing and retrospective reporting. Having up to date information is crucial to let Aucklanders make informed choices and this is a positive step towards being transparent about our water quality. Safeswim is a joint initiative between Auckland Council, Watercare, Surf Lifesaving Northern Region and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service. Trial of a real time signage was launched last Saturday at Mission bay
Read more about it here and visit the site at www.safeswim.org.nz