28 August, 2010

The "holiday highway" debate

There does seem to be overall support for the so called holiday highway to the North - the road which will run from the Johnston's Hill tunnels bypassing Warkworth and Wellsford and ending at Te Hana, just on the edge of Rodney.

There are the opponents of course, those citing the importance of public transport and those who are concerned at yet further destruction of the habitat - perfectly reasonable arguments that need to be considered.

However the growth of the population overall, especially in Auckland does make the north a key holiday destination. In addition to that today's very large trucks are a nightmare for all of us and the statistics on the piece of SH1 to be bypassed clearly favour a new alternative. On a trip back from Warkworth recently, late on a rainy night, the relief at entering the motorway through the tunnels was immense as the safety of travelling on such a wonderful road was clearly felt.

What of the towns bypassed. Well Puhoi has already made its feelings felt after NZTA they put up a plan to see how it would fly. I think they now know that leaving Puhoi out was a lead bellied idea and they would be fools not to heed the local reaction.

Warkworth seems unfazed. They have had such a nightmare with the current upgrade of the part of SH1 which (fortunately) already bypasses the town centre that anything to take the traffic further away will be welcomed. Anyway, they will have good access to the motorway so that the Mahurangi playground will be easily accessible and the tourist opportunities will be even greater with Auckland so close.

Wellsford is the town that will greet the motorway with relief and perhaps some despair. The town will simply be bypassed. The huge trucks and constant stream of cars through its narrow main street will be gone - the relief. However those that did stop shopped at the cafes and the petrol station. Will this be a serious loss? Who knows?

However as one of the candidates for the Rodney Local Board explained to me the other day, Wellsford has the time to work this out. They have time to do the surveys, do the assessments and develop a strategic plan for the town. They can start with the simple question - "What will Wellsford be like in five years" and work from there.

Of greater importance to Wellsford is undoubtedly employment. The loss of Izard's manufacturing plant meant 300 people were put out of work. The surrounding area is good farming country but farming is not a greeat employer these days. What the Rodney Local Board needs to do is to work hard on planning for emplyment. They need to be convincing the new Auckland Council and the Government that the right investment in Wellsford will be good for all of us.

The workers of Wellsford can turn their hand to any decent manufacturing operation. With the right incentives and a motorway capable of delivering goods to Auckland within an hour or so will mean a great future for Wellsford.

There would seem to be many good reasons to get this road built.

24 July, 2010

Toeing the "party line" in local politics

"Citizens & Ratepayers and the Labour coalition parties say they will have candidates standing for all positions in the Super City. How disappointing"

So says Hugh Chapman of Kohimarama in the Herald Readers' Forum on 24th July.

He goes on to say "they just do not get the idea behind the Super City. Local boards are to enlist their residents' ideas and suggestions. If they go back to "party" people and they disagree with the backroom policy to which they have signed on, the idea will be ignored."

"Every person on the local board should be a listener. There should be no party affiliated people even standing, let alone voted for on local boards."

Thanks for that Hugh - we certainly don't need "parties" on local boards that have some sort of whip to ensure all the members vote the same way.

We need clear thinking independent people. People of a similar perspective may well band together to aid their election prospects - but they need to be independent thinkers after that.

18 July, 2010

What does representation on the new Auckland Council mean to us?

I guess we all have the general picture by now. The new local authority structure consists of a single overall mayor (who we all get to elect) and then 20 councillors who will sit in Auckland and govern the city on our behalf. In Rodney we get to elect just one of these councillors.
More locally however we get a "local board" which we elect in separate subdivisions, much along the lines of the old Rodney wards.

So what do these people do on our behalf?
Let's make sure we understand the role of the new ward councillor. He or she is elected by us, however they must act in the interests of the whole city - not just their own ward. While we will be able to ensure they understand the needs of our rural community, the ward councillor is bound to look at the wider ramifications for Auckland and vote accordingly. This may not always be to our total benefit.

Have we lost our local representation?
Well no, in fact we have probably got better opportunities for pursuing our cause than we had before. Under the old scheme our elected councillors were not only there to assist us to get what we wanted, they were also there to charge us for it - they set the rates and all the other regulatory rules and conditions that we sometimes have trouble with.
Now, the new Auckland Council will have all these regulatory responsibilities - our local board will be able to advocate strongly for us without having to defend themselves over rates and regulations.

Our new local board, with members working for you in your area will be taking your issues to the meeting room and determining the strategy for lobbying the Auckland Council. What we need are clear strategic thinkers who can take issues and rationally progress them through the corridors of power.

We need to elect effective lobbyists to our local board.