As I read your front-page story, “Big rate hike if Rodney leaves Auckland” (MM August 2), I found my cup of cynicism to be overflowing. How many times have we seen central and local government procure “independent” reports that effectively rubber-stamp the position which the relevant authority has made clear it wishes to achieve. The Local Government Commission has already made its position known, having been forced by court action to even consider options other than the Supercity model. Every option in the report of this so-called “independent” consultant highlights assumed negatives except for the status quo option. Are we really expected to believe that there are no negatives for Northern Rodney under the status quo? Elected representatives my big toe. Elected dictators with a penchant for corruption more like it.
Patrick Neeley, Tapora (abridged)
Man walks into a car dealership and asks to be shown a small vehicle, cheap to run, basic, at a total all up reasonable cost. The car salesman presents for his approval a large SUV with all the trimmings priced at about double what was requested.
All of which is about what has happened by amalgamating Northern Rodney into Auckland Council. We have got a (gas guzzling) model at an unaffordable price. And ... oh yes ... we were not asked what would suit us, and the sale terms did not include “sale or return”.
You can therefore readily imagine my discomfiture ... to put “outrage” mildly ... when the Auckland Council sponsored report was so freely quoted by your fine newspaper, trumpeting its wholly incorrect projections, projections of massive rates increases based on ‘their’ take on how a new local Council would perform. The NAG model proposed is the antithesis of the Council’s projections.
The one non-negotiable factor of the NAG proposed budget was the permanent financial benchmark for total rates to be at least 15 per cent less than Auckland’s. That is, a four cylinder Corolla ... not a BMW SUV. I really hope that subsequent contributions to your pages reflect a “balance” highlighting our NAG proposal’s rebuttal of such biased and misinformed views as those already published.
Larry Mitchell, Puhoi
Please refer to story Page 3. - Ed
MM under fire
The publication of your article “Big rate hike if Rodney leaves Auckland” (MM August 2) looks like a flagrant breach of the Press Council standards you supposedly follow and does a disservice to the people of North Rodney – most of whom are looking for a better deal than they are currently getting from Auckland Council. The headline is made as a statement of fact – when it is just conjecture from a model by the consultants – and is grossly misleading. Publishing the details before the report is published is likely a breach by you of the confidentiality restriction under which the report was provided. You made no attempt to get informed comment on the report, report any contrary views to provide balance, or to review its content. The contrary view is that rates do not need to rise from a change of governance structure, current waste and inefficiency can be avoided, and there are significant flaws and inadequacies with the report which reduce the quality of its conclusions to that of an opinion, and it should be treated accordingly. These matters are still to be discussed with the consultants and you have preempted that process, thus your reporting helps deny the objective and empirical assessment of better governance options for North Rodney that the community wants and deserves. MM should do better than just lazily publishing a summary of whatever someone leaks to it. Good journalism matters to the community.
William Foster, Leigh
What a shame you have elected to frame your front-page story on North Rodney’s departure from Auckland with such an alarmist and emotive headline. What motivates you to do this? Furthermore, the article does not appear to contain any local reaction to the report and therefore has no balance. Perhaps you might like to prepare another equally unbalanced article for the next issue but reporting from just local North Rodney interested parties this time. It appears to me that the entire process afforded to residents under the Local Government Act, which is looking at North Rodney’s Governance is a waste of time as an outcome is already decided. It feels as if the Local Government Commission (LGC) is just going through the motions before announcing North Rodney will stay right where it is, albeit with a token nod to local concerns. The process is not democratic and the LGC need to be held to account. It’s a repeat of the dishonest process that landed North Rodney under the control of Auckland City in the first place. Mahurangi Matters is assisting the LGC and I imagine Auckland Council in this farcical process by publishing articles such as this one. Very disappointing.
Mark Croft, Scotts Landing
MM has sought a contrary opinion to the Morrison Low report and published it in this issue, along with letters critical of the report. MM believes the public has a right to know what the report contains and stands by its decision to publish details of its contents – Ed
Make cars optional
Regarding the article “Is urban density a dirty word?” (MM August 2). Warkworth is growing from a village to a town. Not all will be able to walk to town, and if we all drive to town there will not be enough spaces to park in when we get there. The solution? Plan the town development around a public transport network rather than the other way around. Plan simple loop networks and then plan local centres, retirement villages, schools and medical centres around these networks. The loop networks might feature a bus service on a 15 minute cycle, with the prospect of upgrading it to automated electric vehicles. The loop networks enable everything to be linked together and also be linked to commuter and intercity services. Cars should be optional for getting around as our town grows, not essential.
Roger Williams, Warkworth
Regardless of all the efforts to get Penlink built and the Hill Street intersection fixed, it is increasingly apparent that Auckland Transport, the mayor, councilors, local boards, the NZTA, and even our local MP, are either gormless or useless. We’ve tried purging and pressuring local boards and councilors. That didn’t work. We’ve pressured the Rodney MP, who is a cabinet minister. Again, more excuses. It is obvious that Rodney voters need to revolt. Being a safe National Party seat hasn’t got us the attention that our congestion problems deserve. There is only one candidate promising to build Penlink and fix Hill Street: New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin. If there is one proven way to scare the National Party into action, it’s Winston Peters breathing down their neck.
Trevor Lyndon, Red Beach
Since the opening of the Auckland Shooting Club at the top of Tuhirangi Road, it is clear the fears of the residents were not exaggerated. A continuous barrage of gunfire now echoes round the Makarau Valley, blighting lives in all directions. There are no limits to club operating hours – seven days a week, eight hours out of 12 every day — and their plans are to be the biggest such facility in the southern hemisphere. Why the Auckland Council failed so dismally to consult or inform is a bureaucratic mystery, but the fact remains residents only found out about the development by accident. The saddest aspect has been the abuse and inconsideration aimed at residents on social media. Perhaps they should journey into the area. They just might have their eyes and ears opened to the realities of living alongside a development where members may well discharge up to 75,000 rounds per day.
Crispin Caldicott, Kakanui (abridged)