Auckland Golf Courses are NOT for sale
There has been recent media suggesting the mayor is leading the sale of golf clubs based on Council land. Whilst the mayor and I have for a long time, been on opposite side of this debate, (he looking at options and me not wanting them sold - especially Remuera) I am pleased that we are all now in agreement that no sales are on the table and our next steps are to look at how other codes and activities can be incorporated into our 13 Council owned golf sites. Remuera have for a long time been looking at this anyway. Some of you may remember that the Remuera Golf Club land was originally a’ swamp’. It has been the hard work of the club itself that has improved the site to the wonderful valuable resource it is today (and I’m not just talking money). They were the first club in NZ to be accredited by Golf Environment Organization for sustainability, they have beehives on site, use solar powered lawn mowers and have the highest membership in rounds played in Auckland. Their driving range has more public use than members use and subject to some commentary, any member of the public can play there. They also pay more to Council than any other golf club based on Council land.
To be honest this whole debate reminded me of when Colin Maiden Park was designated as housing in the draft Unitary Plan and the huge effort taken by myself and the former OLB to get that changed back to its original use for sport and recreation. Parks and open space are the lungs of any city, and with intensification we will need them even more.
Group Procurement Savings
As your Councillor, I am always looking at ways to do things more efficiently and ways that deliver best value for money. I am pleased to announce we have achieved $288 million savings and benefits from Auckland Council's group source procurement programme since we started it 2016. This includes Auckland Council parent and the CCO’s Auckland Transport and Watercare’s product and services procurement.
Earlier this month we received a report which noted savings of $69.9 million in 2016, $106 million in 2017 and $112.4 million this financial year. The report explained in detail the monetary benefits of the programme, including savings, cost avoidance, revenue and increased productivity.
The report also highlighted the advantages of the sustainable procurement model, an innovative long-term strategy to cut business expenses. Early initiatives involve the purchase of a fleet of electric vehicles and increasing the use Skype for Business where possible to lower the councils carbon footprint and cut fleet expenditure.
Outstanding Valuation Objections
If you are one of the ratepayers who has objected to your new valuation and haven’t had your objection resolved, sadly you are not alone. Over 5,000 ratepayers are waiting for their objection to be processed and at time of writing there was still a huge backlog. Council has found itself in a situation not of its making, where the valuation contractor has not met its obligations to respond to objections in a timely manner. By law Council had to send out the rates notices based on the valuation as at 1 July and this has upset many, especially those who wanted their new valuations assessed lower.
I was alerted to this by a constituent and quickly found this to be a region wide problem and at my prompting, staff have contacted those affected with rates options for payments (including deferral ) until the revaluation backlog has been cleared.
Whilst our valuation contractor has had payment withheld as a result of their failure to meet their contractual obligations, this does not lessen the inconvenience and frustration that both myself and affected ratepayers have had to experience.
Ratings changes for church and properties
Prior to the amalgamation of Auckland Council, the different Councils interpreted the rules for rating of properties that have a religious purpose in slightly different ways. At the end of the last political term, the Auckland Council decided to review this issue. The review identified some church held property that was not used for worship or education and suggested that these should be levied rates. The review lacked political approval. For some churches the implementation of staff decisions have seen rates bills go from $400 pa to $28,000 pa.
The good news is that with my intervention, Council has halted these new charges with no penalties until a full report comes to Councillors on the impacts and assessments with remissions options.
Are you or someone you know a resident of a retirement village that is owned on a ‘License to Occupy’ basis? If so, a rule change means that you may now be eligible for a rates rebate from the Department of Internal Affairs instead of a remission from Council.
The maximum rebate from DIA is $630, depending on your income and any dependents you may have.
I strongly encourage anyone who may be eligible for this rebate to find out more on the Auckland Council website here.
Sport & Recreation Partnership Grant to Aktive Auckland Sport & Recreation for 2018/2019
A report recently came to the Environment & Community committee concerning the Sport & Recreation Partnership Grant. The report recommendations were to continue to provide $552,000 per annum to Aktive Auckland Sport and Recreation and Sport Auckland to deliver programmes and initiatives across Auckland over the next three years.
Their work aims to encourage Aucklanders to be more active and take part in regular exercise or activity. The funding will support investment in community organisations and programmes that promote sport and physical activity, especially groups working with young people or identified communities. This will also include the development of shared school and community facilities, initiatives to expand the volunteer base around sport and growing communities of activity.
Glendowie Bowling Club (GBC) was identified as a beneficiary of their work in the Orakei ward as they work with other clubs and the Local Board to get more use out of their facilities and working towards the creation of a multi-use sports hub.
Ayr Street ( Parnell) Footpath Renewal
Auckland Transport have started work to repair the footpath on Ayr Street between Parnell Road and Shore Road. This work is part of a wider programme of renewal works in the region.
The footpath is in very poor condition and will be re-constructed before asphalt road resurfacing work is begun, this work should protect the road pavement asset and is due to be completed mid-October.
All affected residents should have been contacted by Auckland Transport in late August and they should receive an update as the work progresses. The works should not prevent residential vehicle access except when vehicle crossings are being excavated and prepped for concrete. However, others will have to follow the detour route during the work hours of Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, Weekends 8am to 5pm. Pedestrian access on Ayr Street between Shore Rd and Parnell Rd will continue as normal during the project. Thank you for your patience while this work is carried out!
Road Safety Initiatives
I am welcoming the response from Auckland Transport and other agencies following my advocacy regarding road safety improvements for the Orakei Ward. Recent statistics have our ward well down the list in terms of road safety. In fact, we are ranked at a disappointing 17 out of the 21 local Board areas for rates of death and serious injury on our roads. This rate has increased by 4% in the last five years and this is a trend that we need to reverse. So, I am pleased to advise that this financial year we will be investing in a number of new initiatives in the Orakei Ward to address road safety including 14 pedestrian safety projects planned for completion in the next two years.
Three of these projects are focused on improving safety outside schools. The schools targeted are St Kentigern Boys School on Shore Road, Kohimarama School on Kohimarama Road and Glendowie Primary School on Riddell Road.
Police Update: stolen vehicles and rise in burglaries
Did you know that if you've spotted a suspicious or abandoned vehicle in your neighbourhood, it's possible to check whether it’s been listed as stolen?
The NZ Police now have a handy tool on their website. It's as simple as either entering a registration number, VIN, engine or chassis number into the New Zealand Polices Stolen Vehicles Database. Click here to find out if a vehicle was listed as stolen.
Note that when you report a vehicle as stolen to Police its details will be published on this and on other publicly available registers. If you want to provide information anonymously about a vehicle in your neighbourhood, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or If the vehicle appears to be abandoned then please advise Police of its location by contacting your local police station.
I understand there has been a rise in burglaries with thieves specifically targeting high rise apartments and properties in Remuera, Mission Bay and Orakei. The burglars are scaling high rise buildings and accessing properties through unlocked balcony doors or windows.
Police are advising residents to ensure that all windows and doors are locked when leaving the property to prevent further attacks. If you have seen any suspicious activity or you would like to report a burglary at your property, please contact your local police station.