Smoke signal or smoke screen?
Don’t be fooled.
The not-so-super Auckland city plan which could force you to abandon a cosy old friend, your open fire, wasn’t scrapped after sparks flew over the suggested ban late last year.
Aidan Crabtree wrote this letter:
‘‘The proposed bylaw has been put on hold yet again. Is the hope that if it is put off enough times it may get to slip through unnoticed?
‘‘Why hasn’t this idea been scrapped all together by now? Are they hoping the protest will die down?
‘‘Auckland has the Pacific Ocean on one side, and very close by, on the other side, the Tasman Sea.
‘‘I think we get enough wind to move any particles that may be around during the windy winter months.
‘‘During the summer, on the other hand, we may not have the wind, so why not look at the other forms of pollution that really matter? Too hard?’’
That drew this response from a very high place – Auckland Council, level 21, 135 Albert St, the new multimillion-dollar headquarters. ‘‘Hi Aidan. ‘‘The proposed bylaw that might require an open fire and wood burner ban in urban areas of Auckland at some time in the future has been put on hold for a few months while the council con- siders its effects on the community. A committee of the council may consider this matter again in April this year and amend the proposed bylaw.
‘‘If the council wants to proceed with the bylaw in whatever form it takes, there will be an extensive public consultation process which you can participate in.
‘‘This is likely at this stage to be in the middle of the year. ‘‘Thanks, Colin.’’ He is Colin Craig, the council’s ‘‘Principal Policy Analyst/Social Policy and Bylaws/Community and Social Policy’’.
Questions: Is the council putting what in this context could be called ‘‘a smoke screen’’ to cover a backdown on its earlier suggestion of a woodburner ban?
Or is it sending a smoke signal of intent to press on regardless against woodburners?
Also in the mail, a letter of support, a correction – and a further error:
‘‘I always read your articles and totally agree with most of your comments and observations, particularly your efforts to try to make Wellingtonians see what a disaster the Auckland super-city amalgamation has been.
‘‘As a granddaughter of George Hutchison I must point out the error in your column ‘ Jolisa had the wood on them’ where you named my grandfather Mr G V Hutchinson when his name was Mr G W Hutchison.
‘‘See article below which I am happy for you to publish.
‘‘A search of the archives of the Auckland City Council meeting minutes during his time as mayor makes interesting reading.
‘‘The mayor and councillors of that time concentrated on basic core matters for the betterment of the city and its ratepayers, not grandiose schemes to enhance their egos like hobby horses – trains.
‘‘It’s a pity and disappointment that since mayors and councillors have received payment for their roles serving ratepayers, their focus has moved away from ensuring the core business of councils is handled efficiently and cost effectively.
‘‘Instead they spend their time and efforts on devising more and more ways to lump ratepayers with being charged more rates to pay for expensive, non-essential schemes and enterprises while reducing core services.
‘‘Keep writing articles that raise awareness of issues of importance to Aucklanders and others.’’ – C G Hutchison
Attached to this letter was a biographical reference which ended with this: ‘‘Hutchinson was succeeded as mayor by Sir Ernest Davis in 1935.’’