A recent article by Michael Barnett in Auckland regarding local councils not sticking to their core business was right on the money as far as I am concerned (and no doubt quite a few others).
He was commenting on the appalling waste of money by councils, whereby instead of sticking to the basics of good management that they are elected for, many have been spending huge amounts of money on projects that aren’t really that important in the scheme of things.
Auckland for instance has the “State House” on the end of the wharf (which I believe is needing some repairs already) and $285,000 on a mirror that hangs from a building (it is cracked and needs repair)
The Whangarei District Council has released its lovely coloured brochure outlining its future planning including a 2 per cent increase in rates every year for the next 10 years. This increase is supposedly to help pay for the grand “New Council Building”. The council tells us it is cheaper to build a new building than spend money renovating Forum North. I find this unbelievable!
Forum North looks to have huge areas both within and without the building that could be renovated. The vacant coffee lounge area and the huge empty space between the door and the offices are examples. The fact many of council functions are actioned electronically usually means less individual “hands on staff”.
We are advised in the brochure that there were 1400 comments and 687 submissions to the LTP and full marks to those folk who found the time to read and comment on the huge amount of written data therein. (Some of the data too technical for many others)
However, I also read that our population had increased to 90,000 and therefore 687 submissions is a rather pathetic response or is it another indication of apathy to what is being proposed.
The WDC does not have a very good record of maintaining any of its properties that they relinquish and I wonder what would happen to Forum North in the long term. Another Blue Goose or NRC building fiasco?
Recent statements in the news appear to contain a lot of hype and I do wonder where the business acumen from our councillors and other business leaders comes from. I am slightly incredulous that after the first cruise ship to berth at Marsden Point in 2021, it will be the first of many that could see up to 60 ships a year call into Whanga¯ rei, really?
_ Brian O’brien