Now that Spring is here, it is difficult to think of a catchphrase to summarise the year so far. However, in local Government there is one such phrase that we are getting all too familiar with, and that is ‘budget cuts’!
While it appears that central Government is funding any project that is ‘shovel ready’ this is not the case for Auckland Council and there are some very unwelcome cuts. This includes cuts to the Auckland Transport Local Board Transport Capital Fund.
Money from this fund was earmarked for the road safety improvements and footpath outside Dairy Flat Primary School. The preliminary design had been completed and discussed with the school. For it to be delayed is unacceptable. I cannot think of another school in Auckland where parents are forced to park on a highway with no footpath opposite a landfill with 650 truck movements a day. The variable speed limit is 60kph during school drop off and pick up, whereas, in central Auckland it is 30kph – and they have pedestrian crossings, footpaths and traffic lights.
The safety of our children should be a top priority and having a two-tiered safety system for city versus rural primary schools is a risk that is not worth taking. The children of Dairy Flat deserve more.
On a more positive note, our future park at Green Road, Dairy Flat is one step closer. Great cities are all about great parks and to have a 154ha park on our doorstep is a golden opportunity. In the short term, the draft master plan proposes establishing trails for walking, mountain biking and horse riding. From the roadside the land is flat and bare but out the back there are rolling hills, pockets of native bush, established trees and even a waterfall. The importance of retaining the rural character and the large open spaces are key features in the draft plan.
While we are very lucky in Dairy Flat to be surrounded by green space, future generations will not have this luxury with the population in the next couple of decades within Dairy Flat set to soar to 69,000. There is going to be mounting pressure for libraries, hospitals, community centres and schools to be located on this land, but if we can protect this open space for future generations to enjoy then it’s a job well done.