Costs soar on tram pole work

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

Auck­land ratepay­ers are fork­ing out for top-dol­lar work on projects padded out with un­nec­es­sary costs, says a Hob­son Com­mu­nity Board mem­ber.

Clin­ton Bow­er­man has been in­volved with the restora­tion of the cen­tral city’s last re­main­ing tram pole and is em­bar­rassed that al­most $11,000 has been spent on it.

The pole, which sits on the cor­ner of Emily St and Cus­toms St East in the city, rep­re­sents mem­o­ries of the Auck­land tram net­work which stopped op­er­at­ing in 1956.

He says the restora­tion was a small lo­cal im­prove­ment project, which came un­der the her­itage theme for the board.

“Fi­nal cost­ings have yet to come in but around $10,900 has been spent so far.”

He says staff put for­ward a pro­posal for bronze plaque to be placed at the site, which would cost more than $6500.

“The ratepayer is foot­ing the bill for top-dol­lar work, the work takes too long and it’s my view the bud­gets al­lo­cated are bloated, padded with un­nec­es­sary ex­pen­di­ture.”

Mr Bow­er­man says the project has taken a long time to com­plete.

He says the re­stored pole looks good but he would like to see a more cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion for the plaque. “The costs are a bit alarm­ing.”

A free­stand­ing sign has also been con­sid­ered.

Auck­land City Coun­cil city de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee chair­man Aaron Bhat­na­gar says the pole should be com­ple­mented by a plaque be­neath it to ex­plain its sig­nifi

“As mod­ern sig­nage would not be in keep­ing with the her­itage of the tram pole, the in­stal­la­tion of a bronze plaque was con­sid­ered.”

He says as the costs for such a plaque are rea­son­ably sig­nif­i­cant, it would have to be se­curely bolted down to pre­vent theft.

“This project will no longer be go­ing ahead with the small lo­cal im­prove­ments fund,” he says.

Mr Bhat­na­gar says the coun­cil is in­ves­ti­gat­ing other sign op­tions and hopes to find a so­lu­tion that is cost ef­fec­tive and re­spect­ful of the pole’s her­itage.

Mo­tat tramway man­ager Colin Zeff says there are 108 tram poles along the two kilo­me­tre tramway that runs near West­ern Springs and Auck­land Zoo.

He says Auck­land’s tram sys­tem op­er­ated be­tween 1902 and De­cem­ber 29, 1956.

Mr Zeff says the tramway suf­fered a lack of main­te­nance through­out the great de­pres­sion and the two world wars. “To start again was far too ex­pen­sive. The cheap way out was buses.”

He says there is a huge move back to­wards light rail, re­fer­ring to the trans­port ideas for Auck­land’s water­front.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

His­toric heights: Hob­son Com­mu­nity Board mem­ber Clin­ton Bow­er­man thinks too much ratepayer money has been spent on cen­tral Auck­land’s last re­main­ing tram pole.

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