1. Tamaki Drive
Following the successful public meeting on 8 June hosted by the St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association, I have lobbied hard for Auckland Transport to provide mitigation against flooding on the section of Tamaki Drive between Lilliput Minigolf and the Ngapipi Bridge.
I am pleased to advise I was successful and Auckland Transport will make 3 improvements to mitigate the effects of king tides and storms as part of the Tamaki Drive cycleway improvements.
· Tamaki Drive will be raised by up to half a metre.
· installation of storm water valves, to reduce the inflow of sea water through the culvert pipes onto the road
· A curve will be added to the seawall to assist in deflecting waves from breaking onto footpath and road.
All three improvements will be started in this financial year and will be funded from this year’s budget.
2. Rail patronage at an all-time high
When the supercity first came into existence, Auckland had approximately 8.5 million train trips per year. Investment in rail over the past 6 years has included the electrification of the rail network and upgrade of the rolling stock and the use of the HOP ticketing system. We now have more than doubled the amount of train passengers and hit 20 million trips per annum last month, 5 years ahead of the predictions made in 2009.
In Orakei, there is no doubt the Hobson Bay walkway link from Shore Rd to Orakei Train station (completed last term) has assisted those particularly from Remuera, access the train station. Figures show a 22% increase of passenger numbers at Orakei from 2013/14 to 2015/16.
The growth in patronage puts pressure on the capacity of the rail service which currently has a capacity of 21.9 million trips. Recently the governing body approved the purchase of 17 new trains to meet this additional demand. Whilst this was a positive from a public transport perspective, the timing of that ask was very concerning.
The $200 million ask came just 3 weeks after we had signed off our annual budget increasing our expenditure for transport by $179 million from$587million to $766 million. I am on public record as having called Auckland Transport to account at the July Finance and Performance Meeting re the lack of transparency and timing of this very expensive financial request. I have however accepted the apology from the Auckland Transport chair and his commitment from Auckland Transport that we will be fully apprised of similar scenarios in the future ahead of time. But I will be watching…..
3. New Public Art for Newmarket
Our streetscapes are often enhanced by public art. Auckland is fortunate to have people who are willing to gift art to Auckland for the enjoyment of others. A recent example of this is a commissioned work by the Newmarket Arts Trust for a sculpture to Auckland Councils public art collection for location Teed St, Newmarket. The sculpture has been named Heliograph and references the different layers of Newmarket’s history by acknowledging the Maori history, role of Chinese families in the development of Newmarket and the early industry of the area.
In my regional role (noting that Newmarket is not part of the Orakei Ward) I was please to move the recommendation to accept the offer by the Newmarket Trust of the public artwork which was supported unanimously by the mayor and other councilors.
1. Easter Sunday Trading
Auckland Council decided not to make any changes to the way Easter Sunday trading operates within the Auckland region. This is a topic that I was very keen to hear the views of the Orakei Ward on and before the vote made particular effort to contact all resident and business associations in the area. Based on your feedback, I was the lone voice on Council that supported the development of a policy that would give businesses and employees the freedom to choose to work on Easter Sunday. (The right for employees to observe Easter Sunday if they wish is protected by legislation). My particular focus against the status quo was the fact that Parnell business district has an exemption to trade on Easter Sunday that was won in 1989. The CBD and Newmarket asked for their areas to be included in that exemption and that discussion wasn’t even entertained. I didn’t see that as fair.
I always appreciate the feedback I receive from my constituents so a big thank you to all who made a submission or let me know what your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from as many people as possible about future decisions that the council consults on.
5. Environmental Grants
There are just a few days left to get in applications for the Regional Environment and Natural Heritage grants programme. I know that within the Orakei ward there are many people who care deeply about the natural environment and I’m sure there are some great initiatives that would be worthy recipients of some council support. Applications close Sept 10 and more information can be found here.
6. Update on Value for Money Reviews
Last month I let you know about my role in overseeing reviews taking place to ensure Council is delivering its services in a way that gives best value to residents and ratepayers.
Council departments have been able to show some good results over the past 4 years in domestic waste ($165m in savings and a significant reduction in waste to landfill) and the three water services (fresh, storm and wastewater)have also demonstrated cost savings of $700m. The key though, is providing optimal value and there will be ways that we can do that better. Final reports on the first three areas of review are due on my desk by 19 September and this will include improvement opportunities for council to do better in the future.