This will be my final column before the election, and so I take a moment to reflect on the last, nearly, six years. In my second term, I have had the privilege of chairing the Rodney Local Board, a massive responsibility but one that has come with some very useful opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of the workings of Council at a policy and regional decision-making level. The last three years particularly have been hugely rewarding. We’ve chosen to focus on a few really important things, rather than trying to be all things to all people. The biggest of these has been cleaning up our waterways in the form of the Healthy Harbours and Waterways Fund – a riparian fencing and planting project that is worthy of a conservation award. We’ve contributed to the dredging the Mahurangi River, and boosted volunteer support in parks, enabling completion of tracks and planting of hundreds of trees. We’ve supported development at the Warkworth Showgrounds and Atlas site, and community-led projects such as the Lions Club playground at Lucy Moore Park.
These have all been discretionary activities, but we have also prioritised renewal of the Algies Bay seawall, Snells Beach toilets and Wellsford skatepark from more prescriptive budgets that can only be spent on existing assets. We successfully advocated for a Structure Plan for Warkworth and an increased road sealing budget. Of all these things, I am immensely proud. But there is still more to be done. Getting new toilets at Wellsford and Omaha, and a park-n-ride and multisport facility for Warkworth, will require sustained energy and support.
I’m pleased how our team has pulled together. Working collaboratively has meant that all but two or three voting decisions have been unanimous over the last three years. We have been highly functional. We’ve focused on delivering the outcomes of the Local Board Plan.
The document is consulted upon every three years and keeps us on track and working to local priorities. We’ve stuck to core business before spending on the ‘nice-to-haves’, and looked for savings in our own management through going paperless, using teleconferencing to reduce travel costs and avoiding the need for catering.
What next? I’d like to see completion of walking and cycling connections from the Warkworth Showgrounds to the Cement Works, and from Snells Beach to Warkworth. Perhaps some planning work for the centre of Warkworth, further improvements to public transport and somewhere to park so they can use it. We also need to be vigilant for opportunities to attract growth funds (development contributions) by identifying qualifying projects early. We need to pursue solutions to help the road sealing budget go further so that more roads are sealed faster, perhaps by getting Auckland Transport to agree to a lower specification on appropriate roads and for a better standard of maintenance, particularly on our unsealed roads. Yes, I will give it another run.
Beth Houlbrooke, Rodney Local Board