Community input sought

By: John Watson

First up – a big thank you for all the support I received from the Hibiscus Coast in the recent election. It’s a great privilege to represent our beautiful area and a responsibility I don’t take lightly, so thank you once again for the opportunity. As far as voting turnout went, the Hibiscus Coast was again up the top end of Auckland locations – so good on those who voted.

In other parts of Auckland, party politics were very much evident in the recent election. North of the bridge such politics have generally been rejected by local communities, who view it as inappropriate for local government. That’s because party politics can result in ‘block voting’ where councillors vote the way they’re directed to – irrespective of the merits or otherwise of specific issues. Unfortunately we saw a bit of that in the last term of council. Time will quickly tell if the party influence this time around is an unwelcome intrusion into council processes.

In the meantime there is to be a review of Auckland’s Council Controlled Organisations. The standing joke is that someone forgot to put the prefix ‘un’ before the word ‘controlled’ for these large corporations that deal with 75 percent of council’s total business. Not so funny is the fact that in a number of instances they are actually out of control. In my view, at least two of them could be quickly incorporated back into the council, with significant financial and operational advantages to ratepayers. Cr Wayne Walker and I have formally requested that the public be given the chance to have direct input into this review, for there are individuals and groups who have valuable experiences to convey in terms of their personal dealings with CCOs. These need to be heard.

Not messing around with reviews is the new Hibiscus and Bays Local Board who have quickly picked up on the efforts of David Cooper and Caitlin Watson in the last term to have workshops opened up to the public and the press. There’s not much point whining on about low voter turnout when you’re shutting people and reporters out of meetings. So good on the new board for making it clear they’ll be changing that ‘policy’ from the get-go.
Locally, construction on the new bus terminal at Silverdale got underway last month and will result in a large, modern facility for people travelling by bus. Similarly with the NZTA Northern Motorway Improvements Project, flying ahead just down the road. These improvements will make a huge difference for Coast commuters travelling south. Ultimately it’s the efficient delivery of such services and the leadership qualities of those involved that will foster a greater sense of civic engagement. Here’s to more of that then, over the next three years.

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