AUCKLAND COUNCIL with George Wood
Hit the year running over at City Hall
GEORGE WOOD is a North Shore ward councillor on the new Auckland Council. The former three-term mayor of North Shore City lives in Forrest Hill with wife Myra.
Gee, we have hit the year running over at City Hall: The Christmas/New Year break seems just a distant memory and the Auckland Council is right into planning on a number of fronts. Had a good break and spent time getting into better physical shape. I’ve got myself a mountain bike and have spent time exploring the many great cycle ways around the North Shore.
My goal in biking is to lose some excess kilograms but I will certainly never be a Lance Armstrong. Taking part in the cycle to work event in mid February showed how popular cycling is on the Shore. Despite the poor weather there were a number of cyclists at the Takapuna breakfast put on by Auckland Transport. Barbara Cuthbert of Cycle-Action-Auckland was along pushing the case for better safety on the roads for cyclists.
Draft Long Term Plan out for consultation: The plan has been finalised for going out to the communities of the Auckland region for comments. This plan takes Auckland Council budgets through to 2022 and is a major change for the Auckland region. I urge all residents to take a close interest in the make up of this plan and do check it out on the council website.
I have to say that I did not vote for the draft plan. I do not agree with the direction that Mayor Len Brown has taken in developing the plan; far too much is concentrated on the Auckland Central City development at the expense of the rest of the Auckland region. I believe that this new council needs to get the Auckland economy moving through attacking the low hanging fruit in the first stage and getting runs on the board, so to speak. The mayor has decided that the $2.8 billion City Rail Link tunnel project will have centre stage. It is my strong view that this tunnel project will suck the life-blood out of the rest of the region.
Rates increases on the North Shore will be substantial. Please read the section on rates remission for those ratepayers who will be experiencing in excess of 10% rates increases. Yes, many people on the North Shore are going to see their rates hike up by a substantial amount. This, in some ways, is caused by the low uniform annual general charge ($350 per household when the former North Shore City charged each household $750) and the revaluation and change to capital rating.
State of the North Shore streets: This has been a very contentious issue in recent times. A meeting has been held with Auckland Transport road maintenance engineers to find a solution. It was great to hear that Auckland Transport acknowledge that they have failed to maintain the high standards enjoyed in the past but will make amends to get the problems rectified. It was agreed that the local board chairs along with Councillor Hartley and me would have another meeting in a few weeks to follow up on how things are progressing.
Port of Auckland expansion: There are huge competing interests over how the Ports of Auckland develops in the future. On the one hand it is vitally important that the port remains a functioning berth for overseas ships whilst at the same time concerns raised over the impact on the Waitemata Harbour must be recognized. I am a strong advocate of Auckland port remaining a viable and key part of the Auckland economy and community.
The Ports of Auckland is New Zealand’s largest port by volume of containers handled and also by way of value of imported and exported goods. The port is planning to handle container and other freight out into the long-term future. Most overseas cities have a port close by. The people saying that Ports of Auckland should be closed down and Auckland freight be handled through either Tauranga or Whangarei are failing to understand the impact that would have on the Auckland economy and jobs.
Auckland port is able to handle the larger ships carrying 6000 to 7000 containers on the high tides. The Fergusson Wharf berths are currently being dredged to enable the large ships to remain berthed at all tides. The port container cranes are able to handle these larger ships so Auckland is well placed for the future. Any plans to increase the port footprint will be subject to strict scrutiny within the terms of the Resource Management Act. This would include tidal flow analysis and sediment displacement on the harbour bed.