Archive | Forward thinking

Council value for money review gets tick tomorrow

Auckland Council goes to the basics of the super-city tomorrow when its finance & performance committee will formally institute a “value for money” programme review aimed at lifting efficiency savings from $183 million in 2014-15 to $300 million/year by 2025.

The cost-effectiveness review programme also lifts the supervision of council-controlled organisations – particularly the big ones, Auckland Transport, Watercare Services Ltd & Ateed (Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development Ltd) – from sniping when one of those organisations steps out of line, to a closer performance audit.

When the super-city council was formed at the 2010 council elections, the new council had a number of key tasks to do, all at once: rationalise services & expenses, equalise costs to ratepayers across all the old 7 territorial council areas, and establish what the new council should & shouldn’t do. On top of that broad equalising, the council had major plans to create for specific areas and, for the whole region, the unitary plan that would combine regional policy statements & district plans in one document.

Given tight timeframes for everything it was doing, the new council didn’t try to go back to ground level in 2010 and decide then exactly what it should be doing across the whole region but, naturally, chose to work with the previous councils’ programmes and whittle them down to a consistent presentation.

Now, the work starts in earnest.

Section 17A of the Local Government Act requires councils to review “the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions”. A review must consider options for the governance, funding & delivery of infrastructure, services & regulatory functions.

The review laid out for the finance & performance committee by value for money programme manager Sally Garrett introduces “a framework to evaluate expenditure and to provide greater accountability to the governing body & the ratepayer on what is being achieved with public expenditure. The objective of the programme is to analyse cost-effectiveness in a systematic manner across the Auckland Council group and to provide a basis on which more informed decisions can be made on long-term planning priorities.”

The first 3-year review programme starts with 2 phases, initially focusing on activities & services considered high priority to assist in the development of the 2018 long-term plan. Ms Garrett says in her report to the committee it’s assumed each review will take 2-4 months and that up to 4 reviews can be run at the same time.

The first 4 reviews will be:

  • 3 waters – water, wastewater & stormwater budget categories
  • Domestic waste – domestic waste services including refuse, recycling, inorganics & organic services
  • Organisational support – communications & engagement services across the council group, followed by a rolling series of reviews including transactional services, payroll, finance, information systems, procurement, human resources, customer services & legal functions, and
  • Investment attractions & global partnerships – how investment attraction & global partnership services are delivered across the group.

Under the programme, expert panels will be appointed in April-May, data for the first 4 reviews will be collected & analysed from May-August, and conclusions & recommendations will flow from July-September.

The woman managing the programme, Sally Garrett, has a long history in this type of work, first in her 5 years as a principal in Ernst & Young’s management strategy group, then for 6 years as Watercare’s business services general manager. During 3 years as an independent consultant, Ms Garrett assisted the royal commission on Auckland governance and put together the programme for Auckland City Council to manage the transition to the super-city council, including overseeing the due diligence phase and the migration of staff & assets.

She joined Auckland Council in 2012 to manage the finance transformation programme and was appointed to run the value for money programme in 2015.

Attribution: Committee agenda.

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Bill opponents talk “shambles”, not ideology

Opposition to the latest Resource Management Act reforms is less about ideology, more about competence, practicality & effects on process.

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill scraped through its second reading in Parliament yesterday by a 2-vote majority, 61-59, courtesy of Maori Party support.

Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith has promoted the bill’s value, particularly in addressing Auckland’s housing shortage.

The rest of Parliament’s parties, however, reject that basis for the bill and criticise the bill’s structure.

Act MP David Seymour commented: “And you thought RMA reform couldn’t get any worse. The latest Resource Management Act reform won’t be any more effective than the previous 18 reforms to the act.

“Nick Smith is dreaming if he thinks the worst of RMA negotiations are behind him. The consensus from across the political spectrum and from submitters is that the proposed reform is a shambles, adding complexity instead of cutting bureaucracy.

“Our housing shortage is bad enough as it is. Adding more iwi consultation, cost & complexity to the development process would be disastrous for prospective homeowners. Therefore Act cannot support this bill.”

Mr Seymour said that, post-election, “a stronger Act Party will make National commit to fundamental RMA reform that simplifies processes, values property rights and gets houses built.”

Labour says housing crisis assertion wrong

The Labour Party said, in its select committee minority view: “The assertion that the bill is needed because the RMA is the cause of the Auckland housing crisis is wrong, and is no justification for this flawed bill. The following table shows that more new houses were consented in Auckland & New Zealand in 2004 than in 2016. The RMA was in force throughout.”

Labour continued: “The very broad range of submitters opposed to the bill included Local Government NZ and a great many regional & district councils, major land developers including Fulton Hogan, major corporates including Fonterra, infrastructure owners including airport & quarry owners, all environmental non-governmental organisations, the NZ Law Society and numerous others.

“Even amongst the minority of submitters who supported parts of the bill, many used guarded words like ‘we support the intent of the bill’ before criticising much of its detail.

“The bill, if passed, would add complexity to the Resource Management Act 1991 and make it less effective and more expensive to use, rather than better. Legitimate complaints by submitters include:

  • The draconian ministerial regulatory powers to override plans and control consents, and to limit rights of participation. These are tantamount to a return to the National Development Act 1979, and are on the spectrum of the patently excessive regulation-making powers abused under the former Economic Stabilisation Act 1987
  • The power to standardise plan formats & definitions inappropriately extends to the content & substantive provisions of plans
  • The rule-making powers of the minister are also far too broad
  • These 3 forms of ministerial powers are so poorly constrained and patently excessive as to be constitutionally outrageous
  • The bill also overrides – and allows the minister to further override – local & district council functions in such a broad & fundamental way that it overturns the traditional division of power & roles between central & local government
  • The limits to public notification & participation, including on the subdivision of land, are wrong. Those concerned include land developers, and the owners of existing infrastructure concerned about reverse sensitivity effects on their operations. Many submitters said that earlier changes to notification have worked in recent years, and that further change is unnecessary
  • The department said the regulatory powers that can limit rights of participation are intended to apply in urban areas, but the sections as drafted also apply to regional councils and could be used to stop people advocating against pollution of rivers
  • Water conservation orders are undermined
  • New provisions introducing unreasonably short time limits for some council processes will have the unintended consequence of councils making more activities discretionary rather than controlled. Overall this will complicate & delay consent applications rather than speed them up
  • The codification of collaborative processes is unnecessary, wrong in its detail and adds further complexity to the RMA
  • Plan-making processes are curtailed, with insufficient safeguards to ensure that single-step processes are fair & robust when appeal rights are abrogated
  • Appeal rights are curtailed, to the detriment of adversely affected private parties, councils, communities & the environment
  • The important experience & wisdom of the Environment Court is lost from many decisions
  • Many changes introduce more complexity to the RMA, through convoluted decision-making criteria & extra process alternatives. The multiple flow diagrams helpfully produced by the department to assist us illustrated how this bill makes the RMA processes more complex
  • There are a myriad other changes to the RMA & other acts being amended by the bill, many of which are wrong.

The Labour Party concluded: “Some of the changes proposed to national guidance through policy statements & environment standards are appropriate, but others are unnecessarily complex and will give rise to less consistency, not more.”

Greens’ analysis an indictment of ministerial & National performance

The Green Party – regarded by many in mainstream business as a fringe outfit to be disparaged – presented an analysis in its minority view which was an indictment of ministerial & National Party performance.

The Greens said: “The Resource Management Act is a crucial foundation of New Zealand’s environmental law & planning system. Changes to it should be based on sound analysis & evidence and have broad cross-party support so they are enduring. The bill has neither. Many of the changes appear driven by ideology & anecdote, rather than robust analysis & evidence.

“The bill attracted 647 unique submissions & 94 form-style submissions, many of them critical of its fundamental aspects. Many included detailed technical analysis of the bill’s clauses & their implications, and represented a significant investment of time & expertise by submitters.

“Resource users such as Fonterra, quarry operators, and infrastructure operators such as airports made similar points in opposition as environmental interests such as Fish & Game NZ, the Environmental Defence Society, and Forest & Bird.

“Federated Farmers, for example, described the proposed ministerial regulation-making powers as ‘excessive’ and the provisions which allow central government to intervene directly in local council plans as ‘heavy-handed’.

“Sir Geoffrey Palmer, presenting evidence for Fish & Game, described the regulation-making powers which would override the provisions of regional & district plans as a ‘constitutional outrage’. ‘Due process is replaced by executive fiat.’”

The Green Party said the bill’s changes put executive power & individual property rights ahead of community & environmental wellbeing: “They insert new processes for national direction, plan-making, consideration of land-use & other activities and public notification ,while previous changes in 2013 are still bedding in. The changes emphasise fast decision-making ahead of good outcomes. “The bill is likely to make the RMA & its implementation more complex & litigious, and increase costs for councils & users of the act.

“Limits on rights to appeal council decisions to the Environment Court restrict access to justice and the court’s ability to be a guardian of the RMA’s purpose of sustainable management and a check on poor decision-making.”

The Greens’ submission continued with extensive detail on the committee process, ministerial powers, national direction & plan-making before traversing more ideological issues such as public participation, the permissive approach to subdivision & residential activities, fast-track consenting, and the other acts of Parliament affected by the proposed amendment.

The party’s minority view concluded: “The bill is not fit for purpose. It significantly increases ministerial powers while removing or restricting basic rights of public participation. It will expedite development activities with few environmental safeguards and scant consideration of sustainable management. The bill puts private rights & development ahead of the public interest and environmental & community wellbeing. It should not proceed.”

Select committee’s commentary and the revised bill
Nick Smith booklet, 26 November 2015: The second phase of Resource Management Act reform

Related story today:
RMA reform bill scrapes through second reading

Earlier stories:
6 March 2017: RMA amendment back for second reading
10 November 2016: National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms
14 March 2016: Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
27 November 2015: RMA reform introduced

Attribution: Ministerial & opposition releases, select committee report.

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RMA reform bill scrapes through second reading

The latest Resource Management Act reform bill – title, the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill – scraped through its second reading in Parliament yesterday by a 2-vote majority, 61-59.

Labour, the Greens, NZ First, David Seymour (Act) & Peter Dunne (United Future) all opposed it this time. At the first reading, Labour supported the bill’s introduction and NZ First abstained.

Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith introduced the reform to Parliament on 26 November 2015 and it had its first reading 7 days later. The local government & environment select committee reported it back to Parliament on 6 March.

Dr Smith said the intent was “to improve environmental management, help increase housing supply & affordability and support jobs & growth”.

He told Parliament: “The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill is the largest package of reforms to the Resource Management Act since it was first passed 25 years ago. It contains 40 proposals that make significant changes to 5 different acts.

“This reform is critical to addressing housing supply & affordability by making it easier, faster & less costly to create new sections. Section prices in Auckland have gone from $100,000 in 1990 to $530,000 today and are the core reason housing has become excessively expensive.

“It addresses this core issue by opening up land supply, reducing the time taken to get consents, reducing the cost of land subdivision and enabling the construction of infrastructure. Parties that are opposing this bill are blocking the very changes that will make housing more affordable.”

On the Maori Party’s agreement to support the bill, Dr Smith said: “The Maori Party has supported the bill to this stage, and we are continuing to work with them to ensure detailed changes as a result of the select committee process are consistent with their agreement with the Government. I will be meeting with the Maori Party co-leaders on ensuring we have got the detail right.”

“This second phase of the Government’s RMA reforms builds on the first, and will support the additional jobs, infrastructure & housing needed for a strongly growing & successful economy.”

Select committee’s commentary and the revised bill
Nick Smith booklet, 26 November 2015: The second phase of Resource Management Act reform

Related story today:
Bill opponents talk “shambles”, not ideology

Earlier stories:
6 March 2017: RMA amendment back for second reading
10 November 2016: National gets Maori agreement to advance RMA reforms
14 March 2016: Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
27 November 2015: RMA reform introduced

Attribution: Ministerial & opposition releases, select committee report.

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English announces super at 67

Prime Minister Bill English said today the Government would progressively lift the age of eligibility for NZ superannuation from 65 to 67, starting in 20 years.

The proposal assumes National will win the election, scheduled for 23 September. Mr English said (assuming he’s still in power), the change would go into legislation next year.

As justification for a measure his predecessor, John Key, wouldn’t take, Mr English said: “New Zealanders are healthier and living longer, so adjusting the long-term settings of NZ super while there is time for people to adapt is the right thing to do….

“Gradually increasing the retirement age from 2037 will more fairly spread the costs & benefits of NZ super between generations, ensure the scheme remains affordable into the future and give people time to adjust. It will also bring New Zealand into line with other countries like Australia, the UK, Denmark, Germany & the US, which are all moving to a retirement age of 67.”

Mr English said universality & indexation wouldn’t change. He said he was announcing the change now so political parties could debate superannuation transparently in the lead-up to the election.

Little says Labour will hold it at 65

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said before the announcement that Mr English was fuelling uncertainty: “On Saturday he talked about a ‘reset’ for super, but wouldn’t be drawn on what that meant. By Monday he was ruling out changes to entitlements. What will tomorrow bring? A rise in the age of entitlement from 65? This drip feed of options is irresponsible.

“It’s just more poor leadership from Bill English, just like his approach to the housing crisis. His dithering is creating unnecessary anxiety over something he needs to be absolutely clear about because it affects the lives of so many. It’s one thing to be uncertain about what’s going to happen. It’s another thing to say let’s have a debate about it without actually putting the case for change….

“Labour’s policy is very clear. There will be no change. A Labour government I lead will keep the age of entitlement at 65 and we will re-start contributions to the NZ Superannuation Fund.”

Attribution: English release.

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RMA amendment back for second reading

Parliament’s local government & environment committee reported back on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill today, and Environment Minister Nick Smith said it would go to a second reading this week.

Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage described the bill as “a charter for property developers with its permissive approach to subdivision. It encourages urban sprawl, ad hoc subdivision & development with little consideration of the impacts on neighbours, streams, beaches, transport & infrastructure provision.”

But Dr Smith said the amendment would “improve New Zealand’s environmental management, helps increase the supply & affordability of housing and supports jobs & growth. It contains 40 proposals that make significant changes to 5 different acts and is the most comprehensive package of reform to the Resource Management Act since its inception 25 years ago.”

It’s in the second phase of the Government’s resource management reforms, and has 12 significant provisions:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity & cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for councils to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other acts like Reserves, Conservation & the exclusive economic zone beyond New Zealand’s shores
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions, and
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements.

Dr Smith said the Maori Party had reached agreement with the Government to support the bill through all remaining stages in Parliament following detailed consideration of the initial policy and the inclusion of proposed changes to strengthen the original iwi participation agreement.

”The mana whakahono a rohe/iwi participation agreement provides a better framework for councils to meet their existing obligations to consult with local iwi. Many councils already have these agreements through Treaty settlements or good practice. The Government supports these provisions because we want iwi involved in how natural resources are managed and because formalising the process will help achieve better outcomes with less delays & costs.

“This is a huge bill and the Maori Party was not a member of the select committee. They need time to digest all of the select committee’s detailed changes to ensure they are consistent with their agreement with the Government. I will be meeting with the Maori Party co-leaders on ensuring we have got the detail right.”

Report on the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (101-2) [PDF 1469k]
Resource Legislation Amendment Bill

Attribution: Ministerial & Green releases.

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Council to choose Auckland Plan refresh option

Auckland Council’s planning committee will decide tomorrow on which of 5 options to follow to refresh the region’s overarching planning document, the Auckland Plan.

The plan was approved in 2012, in the first term of the super-city council, and was followed by a series of related plans for the central area, the waterfront, local board plans and, the biggest of them all, the unitary plan combining regional policy statements & the district plan.

The council’s strategic advice manager, Denise O’Shaughnessy, said in her report to the committee that, while the Auckland Plan had proven to be an important & useful document, “it has shortcomings which have become evident during implementation. These shortcomings include outdated data, limited integration, a complex structure, too much low-level content, limited prioritisation and a weak monitoring & reporting framework. In addition, the plan is in hard-copy form and therefore cannot be easily updated or accessed.”

Staff have recommended option 4 – “a streamlined spatial approach” – to replace the existing plan “on the basis that it provides appropriate focus on spatial components while ensuring these are strongly connected to the achievement of high-level social, economic, environmental & cultural objectives. The option structures the plan around a small number of interlinked themes that address Auckland’s biggest challenges.”

The other options were a light update, a full update, updating only the development strategy, and a streamlined version that would include detailed non-spatial initiatives & narrative.

The recommended option 4’s update cost is estimated at $2.69-3.53 million, in the mid-range of estimates for the 5 options.

Option 4 would:

  • update & add new general facts & figures
  • use a small number of organising & interlinked themes around Auckland’s key challenges
  • set high level objectives, both spatial & non-spatial, in these theme areas with a brief narrative
  • focus on development strategy to reflect unitary plan decisions; infrastructure strategy; strategic work on urban, rural & future urban development areas; national policy statement on urban development capacity requirements; and create a new growth model
  • exclude any further non-spatial initiatives, narrative or detail and remove more detailed operational directives
  • creates a limited number of high level indicators to track progress and measures to guide the work programme
  • removes all other material in the existing plan, and
  • create a digital plan.

Staff have recommended targeted early public engagement through channels such as online feedback/polling & workshops with community group representatives from May-July. That would be followed next year by a special consultative procedure on the draft refreshed Auckland Plan, at the same time as the council consults on its draft long-term plan.

Committee agenda item: Options for refreshing the Auckland Plan

Attribution: Committee agenda.

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Leading banker takes Australian politicians to task on governance, finance, infrastructure, urban prospects

Australian politicians’ ears must have been burning when bank chief Ken Henry addressed the country’s Committee for Economic Development in Canberra on Thursday, because he wasted no words in portraying the destruction – instead of construction – of a sound future they continued to guarantee.

The Unconventional economist on MacroBusiness, Leith van Onselen, wrote: “Dr Henry pulled no punches in admonishing the Government’s negligence in managing Australia’s mass immigration programme.”

Mr van Onselen also raised questions arising from Australian Productivity Commission reports, including An ageing Australia: Preparing for the future.

But migration & age were just 2 of the questions raised by Dr Henry, who chairs the National Australia Bank. He talked about the notion that endless growth was a practical proposition for Sydney & Melbourne, how every proposal for major infrastructure was drowned in political wrangling and – in the sector he knows best – how every tax reform proposal of the last decade had failed.

Below are some excerpts from his speech:

Business at odds with community

“According to our research, Australian businesses see our strong rate of population growth as a positive. …. In the broader community, there is considerably less support for a larger population. People are concerned about the impact of a growing population on traffic congestion, urban amenity, environmental sustainability & housing affordability. And they worry about our ability to sustain Australian norms of social & economic inclusion. These concerns are understandable.

“Australia’s business leaders have to accept responsibility for ensuring that strong population growth, and the investment opportunities that go with it, lift economic & social opportunity for all, without damaging the quality of the environment we pass to future generations. That means that we have to take an interest in traffic congestion, housing affordability, urban amenity & environmental amenity, including climate change mitigation & adaptation….

“If we want better access to skilled domestic workers, then we are going to have to offer those workers the prospect of better lives. If we want modern & efficient infrastructure, then we are going to have to take an interest in the design of our cities; we are going to have to take an interest in regional development; and we are going to have to take an interest in the planning of new urban centres.

“If we want less red tape & less regulation, then we are going to have to demonstrate that regulation is not necessary….

“Meanwhile, our politicians have dug themselves into deep trenches from which they fire insults designed merely to cause political embarrassment. Populism supplies the munitions. And the whole spectacle is broadcast live via multimedia, 24/7. The country that Australians want cannot even be imagined from these trenches….

“Almost every major infrastructure project announced in every Australian jurisdiction in the past 10 years has been the subject of political wrangling. In the most recent federal election campaign, no project anywhere in the nation – not one – had the shared support of the Coalition, Labor & the Greens.

“Every government proposal of the last 10 years to reform the tax system has failed.

“And the long-term fiscal, economic growth & environmental challenges identified in 4 intergenerational reports over the past 15 years?  The opportunities identified in the White paper on Australia in the Asian century? Simply ignored.

“The reform narrative of an earlier period has been buried by the language of fear & anger. It doesn’t seek to explain; rather, it seeks to confuse & frighten.

“Meanwhile, the platform burns.”

Growing Sydney & Melbourne

Dr Henry also spoke about the Australian budget & tax system, a strongly growing but aging population, climate change & energy security, and making the most of the Asian century.

“How will we fund the biggest infrastructure build in our history? And what about infrastructure planning?” he asked, before questioning the sense in adding 7 million people to the populations of Sydney & Melbourne:

“On the basis of official projections of Australia’s population growth, our governments could be calling tenders for the design of a brand new city for 2 million people every 5 years; or a brand new city the size of Sydney or Melbourne every decade; or a brand new city the size of Newcastle or Canberra every year. Every year.

“But that’s not what they are doing. Instead, they have decided that another 3 million people will be tacked onto Sydney and another 4 million onto Melbourne over the next 40 years.

“Already, both cities stand out in global assessments of housing affordability & traffic congestion.

“And even if we do manage to stuff an additional 7 million people into those cities, what are we going to do with the other 9 million who will be added to the Australian population in that same period of time? Have you ever heard a political leader addressing that question? Do you think anybody has a clue?

“At the very least, we are going to have to find radical new approaches for infrastructure planning, funding & construction. And that includes energy infrastructure, critical to our economic performance and our quality of life.

“The biggest challenge confronting the energy sector is that climate change policy in Australia is a shambles. At least 14 years ago, our political leaders were told that there was an urgent need to address the crisis in business confidence, in the energy & energy-intensive manufacturing sectors, due to the absence of credible long-term policies to address carbon abatement. It is quite extraordinary, but nevertheless true, that things are very much worse today.”

  • Dr Henry was Secretary of Australia’s Treasury Department from 2001-11, and was appointed a director of the National Australia Bank in November 2011 and chair in December 2015. From June 2011-November 2012, he was special advisor to the prime minister with responsibility for leading the development of the white paper on Australia in the Asian century. He’s a former member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Board of Taxation, the Council of Financial Regulators, the Council of Infrastructure Australia and chaired both the Howard government’s tax taskforce in 1997-98 and the Rudd government’s review of the tax system in 2008-09, and he’s governor of the organisation he was addressing above, CEDA.

23 February 2017: NAB chair Ken Henry’s full speech at CEDA
Unconventional economist on MacroBusiness, 24 February 2017: Australia can’t build its way out of population ponzi
Unconventional economist, 24 February 2017: Bigger cities are engines for inequality
Australian Productivity Commission, November 2013: An ageing Australia: Preparing for the future
Committee for Economic Development of Australia

Attribution: NAB, CEDA, MacroBusiness.

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Next Takapuna Beach reserve decision – how to run a camping ground

The Takapuna Beach camping ground is back on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board’s agenda on Tuesday, not for another round in the battle between camping & a sailing centre, but for a report on evaluating whether it should be run by the council or leased out.

Pro-campers won decisively in December 2015, though the board allowed 600m² to be carved off. Last November, the newly elected local board resolved to re-establish the full footprint of the camping ground site.

Yachting NZ, through the Harbour Access Trust, had campaigned to get a sailing centre built on the reserve. When that failed, the question for the local board was how to run the camping ground.

The council community facilities department has been developing an in-house model and will formally seek a decision from the board in April on whether to continue down that track or to opt for an external lease. Council organisation Panuku Development Auckland had developed 2 external options.

It’s not a straightforward choice. To run it in-house or lease it short-term, the council would have to spend $1-2 million renewing infrastructure & facilities, but that money’s not in the budget.

The council has taken steps, however, to make an in-house operation a practical proposition. It recently established a specialist unit in the new community facilities department to manage the holiday accommodation portfolio that’s under the direct management of council staff. This includes holiday park operations at Orewa, Whangateau & Martin’s Bay, the Waiheke backpackers hostel and numerous baches, lodges & tented campgrounds in the council-owned regional parks.

Earlier story:
14 December 2015: Takapuna Beach campground up for debate again

Attribution: Local board agenda.

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Uptown BID expansion scheme moves to final stages

The Uptown Business Association – straddling the start of New North Rd on the south-western fringe of downtown Auckland – is working on a programme to expand its business improvement district just over the railway line to take in the first blocks of Mt Eden.

Image above: Map shows the existing Uptown business improvement district hached in blue and the proposed extension hached in red.

The expansion area would run a short way down Dominion & Mt Eden Rds, cutting across at Brentwood & Sylvan Avenues. It would extend down Mt Eden Rd to Normanby Rd on the eastern side, taking in the block between Esplanade Rd & Puka St on the western side.

The business improvement district would incorporate the business & apartment precinct developed on the former Robert Holt timber yard & neighbouring streets on the city side of Maungawhau/Mt Eden, and also include Mt Eden Prison on the run across to the Southern Motorway.

The existing business improvement district boundary runs around Boston Rd, bordering the prison, follows the railway line to Park Rd then heads back west along Carlton Gore Rd to Grafton Rd.

The Uptown Business Association requires local board support before balloting businesses in the proposed extension area. This extension sits in the Albert-Eden and Waitemata local board areas. Approval from both boards and from target businesses will increase association membership from 1800 to 2100 members, and its target rate from $180,000 to $250,000 as of 1 July 2017. The Albert-Eden board approved it in December. The ballot requires a 25% return of votes, with 51% of those votes supporting the boundary expansion, to succeed. Voting will take place from 6-31 March.

18, Proposed Uptown Business Association, business improvement district expansion boundary map

Earlier story:
11 April 2016: Uptown project, name change & paid parking zone on local board agenda

Attribution: Council agenda.

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Youth leader replaces MP’s wife on Howick Local Board

Mike Turinsky.

Mike Turinsky (Practical Not Political Party) has won the by-election in the Botany subdivision of Auckland Council’s Howick ward with 3510 votes – 40.2% of the 8739 total (excluding 32 informal or blank).

Mark Johnson (Labour) was well back on 1045 votes, with 5 independents making up the rest of the field.

The by-election was called after the successful candidate in the October 2010 election, Lucy Schwaner, quit immediately after being sworn in.

She’d stood for the chair to unseat incumbent David Collings, but lost the vote 5-4, walked out and issued a statement half an hour later saying she resigned because she had no confidence in the chairmanship of Mr Collings.

Ms Schwaner is the wife of the National Party MP for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, who was campaign manager for the unofficial National Party team, Vision & Voice. Only one of the 9 board members wasn’t a member of that team, now joined by Mr Turinsky, who’s chief executive of the Young Life New Zealand Trust, a charitable trust based in East Auckland which helps provide youth workers to 3 local schools – Botany Downs Secondary College, Pakuranga College & Edgewater College.

He said on his website he valued fiscal responsibility and staying under budget.

Attribution: Council, Schwaner statement, Turinsky website.

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