‘Challenging’ has to be a fine description of what it’s like to get things done and make a difference on Auckland Council.
With size and scale has come complexity and conflict. For myself and fellow Councillor John Watson, standing up for people and the things that matter is an easy choice for us. It’s the right thing to do – but tough in practice.
The little things and the big things both count. You’d think that just getting some better signs on beaches to stop some of the bad behaviour from people thinking they can drive on them was straightforward and likewise to discourage the freedom camping that takes over local coastal reserves. Chasing up sediment controls on developments that have run amuck is another example.
We want quick action wherever possible but budget limits and cost cutting, finding who is responsible and having the action prioritised, all takes time, effort and perseverance.
Thankfully understanding how the organisation works and who to contact are a big help and so is making the connection between policy and strategy and the action that needs to happen on the ground.
Getting action on big issues sees us too often up against short term expediency rather than long term gain. Examples are the proposed sell-off of marina space that we know will be needed in the future for transport, public parking and recreation needs. There are strategies that I can only describe as silly for a downtown stadium and slow trams to the airport. Our existing stadiums already have problems filling seats and covering costs. And why can’t we simply complete the existing rail network to the airport which will be faster, cheaper and more reliably get people and freight to and from the airport location to a wide catchment? Mike Lee is an experienced ex Regional Councillor who understands this, as did Sir Dove Meyer Robinson back in the 70s.
Saving and gaining open space for parks and recreation for a growing city is worth fighting for. But can you believe there are no more regional parks identified for acquisition over the next 10 years? This comes against a background of explosive population growth in Auckland. So, at strategy, policy and implementation, at meetings, forums and budget debates I continue to raise this issue.
For example, we could have a decent budget for this from new developments to offset costs from rates – and Council goes out to consult on this shortly. Making progress and getting action is a team effort and thanks to the many people out there in the community who step up and help with campaigns. I liken this to push and pull. We need the push from the community to help pull things through our end on Council. It’s worth it.