Grass grows while wait­ing for an an­swer

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

ALLEN McLaugh­lin’s berm bat­tle is a real doozy.

But the fight has been worth the ef­fort be­cause he’s just re­ceived word that the verge in ques­tion will be main­tained by Auck­land Trans­port.

The One­hunga man went in to bat on be­half of an el­derly neigh­bour who is 83, in poor health and not able to mow the 56 me­tres of berm out­side her cor­ner unit.

Mr McLaugh­lin says he is happy to step in to help on oc­ca­sion but can’t com­mit to it full­time.

‘‘It’s a big job and takes an hour at least,’’ he says.

He is among those say­ing it ought to be eas­ier for peo­ple with gen­uine health woes to get help mow­ing their berms from coun­cil con­trac­tors.

Ear­lier this month Auck­land Trans­port con­firmed just eight out of 160 ap­pli­ca­tions for an ex­emp­tion from berm mow­ing for health rea­sons had been granted.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion says it would pre­fer com­mu­ni­ties ral­lied to keep their neigh­bour­hoods look­ing neat and tidy.

Mr McLaugh­lin says deal­ing with Auck­land Trans­port to get his neigh­bour’s berm sorted has been te­dious.

He first wrote in Oc­to­ber and in­cluded a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate in the re­quest.

Since then he has re­ceived sev­eral re­sponses, in­clud­ing a re­jec­tion let­ter and an ac­cep­tance let­ter which both ar­rived in the mail on the same day.

The let­ter agree­ing to mow the berm said it would be done twice a year, to keep the verge from be­com­ing a fire hazard.

He says the ex­pe­ri­ence has dented his con­fi­dence in the abil­ity of the coun­cil con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tion.

‘‘My is­sue is the sheer in­com­pe­tence of Auck­land Trans­port. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is do­ing.

‘‘To sug­gest they will cut it twice a year is far­ci­cal.’’

Auck­land Trans­port spokesman Mark Han­nan says the mix-up with the let­ters was hu­man er­ror. ‘‘We apol­o­gise for that. ‘‘We will cer­tainly be mow­ing this berm when it needs that work done, the sug­ges­tion of twice a year is not cor­rect, it will be mowed more of­ten par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son.

‘‘The vol­ume of re­quests con­cern­ing berms has in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly and we have a back­log of re­quests we are work­ing through.’’

Mr McLaugh­lin is pleased with Auck­land Trans­port’s com­mit­ment to mow the berm.

‘‘I’ll be­lieve it when they start do­ing it but I’m quite happy they have come to their senses and shown some com­mon sense.’’

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