Leadership, integration and transparency are at the top of issues for Auckland Council. There is simply not enough money to make mistakes, too many big issues that need joined-up solutions and Aucklanders need to know what’s going on to support the solutions.
Much of my effort is getting to the bottom of what is behind agendas and issues so I can ask the hard questions and find answers. Fellow Councillor John Watson shares the load so we are more efficient and able to take more on. Even so it’s a matter of prioritizing what’s important; there’s simply too much going on.
The integration of the previous eight councils may have simplified some – but the government established council controlled organisations including Watercare, Auckland Transport, Regional Facilities, Investments, Development and Tourism (six all up) need to work much more effectively together and with focused leadership from the council.
There are big issues that could be better led such as public transport to the airport (heavy rail is my preference with light rail as a bonus), harbour and stream pollution from sewage overflows caused by stormwater intrusion, new funding tools – especially for transport, expensive stadium overspending at Western Springs, inadequate funding for new parks and reserves, and the lack of infrastructure for growth areas everywhere. In many cases there is very little public information available and often insufficient priority and focused time by council, and council itself is often under-informed. Whenever the opportunity I highlight these issues and suggest solutions.
Locally it’s important that we make the most of what we can realistically get from a severely cash-constrained council. The upcoming Silverdale Park and Ride extensions, dynamic laning for Whangaparaoa Road between Red Beach Road and the highway, localised roading improvements in Silverdale, ongoing Gulf Harbour Ferry and bus increases and the soon to start commercial centre in Silverdale North adjacent to the motorway (Highgate Business Park) are all going to help offset the infill development, especially on Whangaparaoa. Sure there are tweaks required but let’s grab what’s on offer and make sure that our local improvements are integrated.
The recent restrictions for water tankers at the Karepiro filling station were over-the-top. And the contribution that people on tank water on the Hibiscus Coast make to Auckland’s overall water supply and to rates, through sewage charges, has not been acknowledged. Sure there may be a need for limited restriction at peak times in the morning and evening but the rest of the time there shouldn’t be a problem. We need to sort this one out.
People on tank water may know of someone on reticulated water who will let them top up their tank by running a long hose. After adding in the cost of wastewater (which is charged at 78.5 percent of water consumption) you get $3.36 a cubic metre – which is a fraction of the $11 to $13 from a water tanker. So it’s worth asking around to see if a friendly neighbour can help.
I believe many of our problems can be solved by community based solutions so its important that council supply the information around the problems, possible options and solutions. Thomas Jefferson said “An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.”
Editor’s note: Hibiscus Matters did a story on the costs of tank water back in February, 2014.