Auck­lan­ders are ‘Browned off’

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

That lineup of the not-so-su­percity’s coun­cil­lors must be stone deaf and have their hear­ing aids turned off if they can’t hear the grow­ing growl of angry, be­wil­dered ratepay­ers who feel like vic­tims of a con job.

Promised be­fore they voted that rates would not rise beyond 2.5 per cent, the coun­cil’s vic­tims are now liv­ing in dread of per­haps twice that.

Then there’s that pa­rade of coun­cil ill-judged de­ci­sions later re­jigged, floated and then scrapped, or sim­ply dis­ap­peared with­out the fan­fare, smoke and flash­ing lights they were an­nounced in.

Per­haps the mayor and coun­cil­lors spend too much time dream­ing about their am­bi­tions of a buried train set.

Maybe they think that dig­ging for those un­der­ground lines will also bury some of the to­tally jus­ti­fied slag­ging off they seem re­luc­tant to hear or give any weight to.

Typ­i­cal quotes from let­ters in my mail­bag – from Orewa to St Johns, Ti­ti­rangi to St Heliers and Buck­lands Beach – all of them pub­lished in full would have filled three pages of this news­pa­per:

‘‘How ironic that it’s not only be­com­ing fis­cally im­pos­si­ble for many to live in Len’s ‘most live­able’ city – the coun­cil must make it more ex­pen­sive to die here too.

‘‘The coun­cil’s Depart­ment of Ir­ri­tat­ing Non­sense (a grow­ing body un­nec­es­sar­ily fo­cused on things of lit­tle im­por­tance like crum­bling chim­neys and old roofs that do no harm) now feels the need to im­pose fees and in­crease costs for Auck­land ratepay­ers even after we die.

‘‘Pre­sum­ably to raise spir­its over this rort, the coun­cil chirpily points out that un­der a new regime, af­fect­ing burial plots and scat­ter­ing of ashes, it would be cheaper than it used to be to bury a child. That’s com­fort­ing.

‘‘I sin­cerely hope that my de­scen­dants will en­sure that my ashes are scat­tered close enough to an open win­dow of the coun­cil cham­bers so that they may gen­tly waft inside and get up their noses.

‘‘It would only be fair to re­turn the favour after all th­ese years.’’ – Carmel Clar­idge, St Johns

‘‘If the coun­cil is go­ing to in­sist that all gal­vanised and cop­per roofs be painted to stop metal el­e­ments leach­ing into wa­ter ways, why stop there?

‘‘Maybe all roofs will need to be painted white to re­flect the sun and re­duce global warm­ing?’’ – Max Jack­son, St Heliers

‘‘What an im­pres­sive col­umn on Noosa and the de­ba­cle of its forced amal­ga­ma­tion with other coun­cils on the Aus­tralian Sun­shine Coast.

‘‘We lived in Noosa dur­ing the whole episode and lis­tened to all the ar­gu­ments about ef­fi­cien­cies and cost sav­ings and can ver­ify the facts you out­lined.

‘‘The Noosa sit­u­a­tion is a great ex­am­ple of ‘big­ger is not bet­ter’ and one hopes that even­tu­ally, Auck­lan­ders will see the light and – given the chance – will dea­mal­ga­mate.

‘‘Please keep on push­ing for that to hap­pen.’’ – Ian Wil­liamson, Buck­lands Beach

‘‘So you got our at­ten­tion but where do we start?

‘‘Please, no big spend­ing Bob Har­veys this time, no cas­tle builders, just or­di­nary folk who still have a bit of com­mon­sense left. If there are any still out there.’’ – Ai­dan Crab­tree, Ti­ti­rangi

‘‘The su­per-city is a weird struc­ture in which the mayor and 20 elected coun­cil­lors have to ‘joust’ with seven coun­cil con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tions they seem to have no con­trol of and a pha­lanx of un­elected bu­reau­crats.

‘‘As por­trayed on TV in the bril­liant Yes Min­is­ter, the lat­ter can have too much con­trol. It’s highly ques­tion­able democ­racy.

‘‘Dis­trict coun­cils were a man­age­able size. They were lo­cally aware, far more ef­fec­tive in their com­mu­ni­ties than the Auck­land mon­ster. The amal­ga­ma­tion twad­dle was foisted upon us with­out any checks and bal­ances to mea­sure its suc­cess.

‘‘Hope­fully, one day we shall re­turn to an ap­pro­pri­ate gov­er­nance model that pub­lishes its aims, tar­gets, re­sult and fail­ures. Then, ratepay­ers can judge per­for­mance and vote ac­cord­ingly.

‘‘A lot of Auck­lan­ders are very Browned off.’’ – John Cle­ments, Orewa Beach

He’s right.

Not so su­per: ‘‘The amal­ga­ma­tion twad­dle was foisted upon us with­out any checks and bal­ances to mea­sure its suc­cess.’’

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