October Newsletter

Eastern Bays Songbird Trap Hand outs

I’m sure you join with me in wanting an Orakei community and an Auckland that is vibrant with birdlife, free of pests with healthy biodiverse ecosystems.

The good folk at the Eastern Bays Songbird Project have a mission for local residents to be involved in controlling rodents, possums and hedgehogs and  are distributing free rat traps between 10am and 2pm at the following dates and locations.

  • 27th October - Grammar TEC Ruby Club, Orakei

  • 3rd November - the car park outside 6 Nihill Crescent, Mission Bay

  • 10th November - 46 Long Drive, St Heliers

  • 17th November - Maskell Street Shops, St Heliers

  • 1st December - Kupe Street Shops, Orakei

I’ve got mine and encourage you to have one too. If you are worried about disposing of what is caught, don’t panic- the good folk associated with the organization will do that for you.

See www.songbird.org.nz

New school bus for Sacred Heart College

Following the launch of the new central bus routes in July, there have been many schools unhappy with changes. Glendowie College and Sacred Heart were two of them.  Sacred Heart and Glendowie College have, as a result of changes, been sharing a bus which was causing a variety of problems for the schools- including overcrowded buses and difficult timings for students.

 I’m happy to announce that following a joint meeting I had with deputy principals from both schools, Auckland Transport has added a new school bus to serve Sacred Heart College seeing a bus for both schools operating as before.

A specific bus service for both schools is a logical outcome and I commend Auckland Transport for responding to the school's concerns.

A buzz at Remuera Golf Course

There is a definite buzz at Remuera Golf Club and not all of it has to do with what’s happening on the course. On a recent visit I was surprised to discover the club is home to several beehives which are cared for by a local community group, which collects the honey and sells it.

It’s just one of the many ways the club is connecting with its community and demonstrating its commitment to the being more sustainable.

In 2016 the club was GEO certified for its commitment to sustainable practices which include the hives and returning parts of the course to a more natural state to improve habitats to attract birdlife. It also introduced systems to reduce water use, use electric mowers, organic fertilizers and installed recycling bins around the course.

On the Golf Course’s future as open space, I remain committed to ensuring Remuera Golf Course land is not sold for housing but is able to develop its long held intention to have more public access for sport and recreation on site.

Annual Report

Auckland Council’s Annual report for the July 2017 to June 2018 year was released in late September. Whilst nowhere near perfect I can reliably say that over the past year period Council has shown improvement in controlling more of its costs, reducing reliance on rates as a funding source and improving organizational efficiency all while delivering a record capital investment programme to support Auckland’s rapid growth.

Due to the way the planning and reporting cycles work for Council this is the only report in the 3 year political cycle that will be received by the same group of councilors that approved the budget that it reports against. Some highlights for me were:

·         Rates rise held to 2.5% for the 2017/18 financial year with the UAGC also increasing by 2.5%

·         Overall operating surplus of $122m

·         $1.7 billion in additional capital assets for Auckland (against only $253m in added debt)

·         Launch of Green Bonds

·         Realisation of the first benefits and savings from the Value for Money programme in procurement ($112.4m) and water and wastewater ($79m).

·         Maintenance of Auckland Council’s high AA credit rating

·         Staff costs for the council parent below budget by $26m

·         Staff as a ratio to Auckland’s population decreased

·         96.5% punctuality for public transport services

·         Adding 13 new parks to our network ( one for Orakei Ward )  and 10 Council parks recognized internationally through Green Flag awards.

·         Improved engagement with Asian communities

Lowlights included:

·         Needing to increase provisioning for weathertightness claims by $82m

·         Expenses coming in $77m higher than budget

·         Unsatisfactory performance in timely processing of regulatory consents


So yes some good news but still a long way to go……………

CCO performance

The performance of our CCO’s is just as important ( some say more) than Council’s core operations. Last week we received the annual report on our CCO’s performance. One which particularly concerns me is the performance of  Panuku. Panuku Development Auckland is a merger of two former CCO’s Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Properties Ltd.  Last year Panuku’s capital spend was a huge $31.6m behind budget, with only 27% of its capex budget being spent. Sadly this follows a disturbing trend over the last 3 years with 33% of their capital programme being delivered in 2017 and 46% in 2016. With the America’s Cup planning well in place, they will have a whole lot more projects on top of those delays they currently have. I will be taking a very careful look at the performance of Panuku and challenging them to improve their delivery, monitoring and performance in the next financial year as currently they give a very poor performance impression to ratepayers.

Quality of Advice to elected members

Having sound, good quality advice available to elected members before they make decisions is integral for good decision making.  Every year, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) critiques Council reports and rates them against a set of standards. As chair of the Quality Advice Political Advisory Group, I have had an objective to improve the quality of reports. I’m very pleased to be able to share the headlines results of the most recent NZIER assessment.  Council has achieved its highest score to date; lifting to an average score of 7.38 .From my perspective its still not good enough, but for the first time we have not received any ‘poor’ ratings.  And 84% of the reports were assessed as adequate or above. That’s a very good result. The following rating system is used:  5=poor; 6= borderline; 7=adequate; 8=good; 9+=excellent.

Council has a small team working to support the improvement of report writing and in July, Cathy Scott, Associate NZIER, reviewed our quality advice programme with the aim of identifying successes, gaps and areas for future focus. I’m pleased to report that NZIER was impressed with the programme calling it ‘one of the best they’ve seen’.  They commended the programme’s strong governance and leadership including the role of the Political Advisory Group. Now we will work through the results in detail so we can learn from them, as our goal is to achieve an even higher score next year.

We don’t have our benchmarking results as yet.  However, to put our 2018  score in context, the highest score received by any Council in NZ  last year was 7.19.