Catch the bus? Please check out the new bus numbers, routes and timetables
July 8 sees the launch of the new bus network for the central suburbs and city. This is a piece of work a long time in the making – consultation took place in 2015! The key benefits of the new network come from the emphasis on core routes along Tamaki Drive and Remuera Road that will run at least every 15 minutes into the central city and back. The Tamaki Drive route is called the Tamaki Link and will be instantly recognizable in blue livery (my one claim to fame is I chose the colour of the bus). Parking is often a problem in town but locals will now be able to catch a bus to and from eateries and events in the CBD (and within the bays) with the 15 mins service running both ways until midnight. New bus routes for our area will also see a bus going to the Auckland museum for the first time and to the Waterfront theatre. But not all route changes will please everybody. If you find yourself in that position (or if you love the new network) feedback can be emailed through to email@example.com. Auckland Transport will be reviewing the new network 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from July 8 and your feedback will be key to that review process.
For more information see: https://at.govt.nz/projects-roadworks/new-public-transport-network/new-network-for-the-central-suburbs/
Martyn Wilson Field
Last September I was approached by a number of residents who live near to Martyn Wilson Field in Remuera. Their complaint was that the stormwater pond created in 2011/12 produced an awful rotting/sewerage smell, particularly over the summer months. I asked for this to be investigated by Council’s Environmental Health and Healthy Waters team. They established that the smell was due to anoxic sediment and initially took an interim measure of keeping a higher level of water than normal in the pond to reduce the amount that the sediments were being exposed. That didn’t work as well as they anticipated. Staff then concluded that the long-term solution to the smell was actually to dredge the pond to remove this sediment. Fortunately, after much pestering and after some difficulty in finding a contractor with the capacity and ability to do this work, I am pleased to advise that dredging is finally underway. Council will now keep this monitored in future and look to de-silt the pond at least every three years to prevent these issues from reoccurring.
Auckland Netball Centre funding for community use
Auckland Netball is based in St Johns, and as an amenity, is used not just for netball but for a number of other sports. Facilities to support our community participating in sport is integral for well-being. It is also important to support indoor opportunities and well as outdoor, particularly as regionally we are well under for indoor sports options. Last year the Environment and Community Committee granted one year of funding for the Auckland Netball Centre in St Johns on the assumption that we would have in place a Sports Facility Investment Plan to guide longer term investment for the future. However, this work was not prepared (agh!) The recommendation this year from staff was to roll over Auckland Netballs funding for an additional year. This wasn’t ideal for Auckland Netball who were looking for more certainty for their funding. With the agreement of the mayor and all councillors at our 12 June meeting, I was pleased to second an amended motion that gave two years of confirmed funding to Auckland Netball at $150,000 per annum. This funding secures community access to the Auckland Netball Centre which hosts upwards of 435,000 visits per year.
Orakei Basin Boardwalk alongside the railway line
I must say I am very unhappy with the look and design of the Orakei Basin walkway along the railway line. Whilst I appreciate the apology from AT for absolutely no communication on this stage of the project this Council term and their change of design done without any notice to the Orakei local board, our Community or myself, the sad reality is we are now left with a section of the shared path which struggles to aesthetically match the natural environment of the Orakei Basin and other walkways which feed into it. When travelled at anything other than a slow walk this section now appears to have the optical illusion of travelling through a grey tunnel. The adopted requirements agreed to by NZTA and Auckland Transport associated with officially allowing cyclists and calling this a’ shared path’ means they need to raise the handrail. To those who are ‘vertically challenged‘ (short like me) will now have very limited view of our wonderful Orakei Basin as we walk this section as the new 1.4m railing is over 4 ½ feet ( I’m only 5.2”).
Auckland Transports CEO has given me absolute assurance that he will look at options to mitigate the current design flaws. He has also given me assurances that full consultation will occur on design for all other sections of this shared path and that regular updates will be provided moving forward. However I have complained to the mayoral office that Auckland Transport and NZTA appear to be using one set of design rules and yet Panuku who managed the development of a new shared path at Westhaven use another ( and far less restrictive)
Why is it OK to walk and cycle along the same section of Tamaki Drive with no railing at all, yet not ok here? Madness!
At time of writing I’m on my last slither of hope for change. Directly talking to NZTA…..wish me luck!
Ellerslie Stained Glass grant
Council has a regional fund to support heritage projects in Auckland. I was pleased to move a resolution to support Christ Church in Ellerslie to receiving $20,000 in grant funding through this fund as a contribution towards the restoration of their stained glass windows. The total cost of the stained glass restoration project is $652,050.
These windows have been assessed by art historians to be of national significance and are irreplaceable. Christ Church itself is scheduled in the Unitary Plan as a Category A historic heritage place.
We can deliver considerable better value for money in procurement
I am a firm believer that Council has the responsibility to look for ways to deliver its services in a way that is the best possible value for money for Aucklanders and have been fortunate enough to work with the mayor on this. Council aims to be efficient at what we do but without doubt we can do better regarding procurement practices as a recent 17A review showed. We are taking big amounts of money in this field, spending 8.1million annually to procure 2.9billion of goods and services across the group. But there is double up and duplication that can be eliminated with better planning. Through the review process we have identified changes that can be made which will save ratepayers $197 million in incremental hard savings over the next 10 years. For a sense of scale, this is the same amount of money that Auckland Transport has budgeted for upgrading intersections on high risk urban roads through its “Urban Road Safety Programme” over the same period. Needless to say, I am a strong supporter of the value for money programme. Very happily I moved the resolution to approve the procurement recommendations which will deliver these savings and efficiencies.
Why are guavas and figs classified as plant pests?
As part of my role as your ward Councillor I am often asked to speak to various community groups and clubs. Last month I was fortunate enough to speak to the Remuera Garden Club. At the close of the meeting I received some tricky questions about why the proposed Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) listed Guavas and Figs as pest plants. Privet (which many complain about) is a well-known pest and the question was also asked as to why it is allowed to ‘flourish’ so prolifically. Privet is absolutely a pest in both the current and proposed plans. Council removes Chinese and Tree privet on council land as budget allows. Typically, they will target areas of high ecological value. Whilst removal of privet on private property is recommended, there is no requirement for this.
Four species of Fig (Creeping, Morton Bay, Port Jackson and Strangling) and one species of guava are newly identified as pest species in the proposed RPMP. Like privet, this means it would become an offense to sell, distribute or propagate these plants but again, no requirement to remove existing plants. The rationale to list these species as pests is that they are likely to be distributed by birds into remote native habitats and have a history of being invasive overseas. By restricting their future availability, council hopes to mitigate any future impacts of these species spreading.