Memo Wellington: Don’t do it!
Not another super-city disaster in the making!
An astonishing Local Government Commission draft plan wants the councils currently running Wairarapa, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Kapiti Coast, Porirua-Tawa, Ohariu, Lambton and Rongotai to merge into one – the ‘‘Greater Wellington Council’’.
Hasn’t the commission taken in the Auckland experience, read the protests, heard about the anger over the whole debacle, the trams or trains debate, the controversy over council membership of the harbour council and now the major moves on expanding wharves into the harbour? The complaints about failure to seek public opinion go on. Like this mail to me:
From Carmel Claridge: ‘‘Auckland needs its visionaries and big thinkers. But for our communities to function well – to grow in harmony and be safe and pleasant places to live in – we also need champions for doing the ‘everyday housework’ of the city.
‘‘Big spend projects are all very well but you don’t have to look too closely to see that everyday life for most Aucklanders is becoming increasingly difficult, both practically and economically.
‘‘What makes Auckland ‘liveable’ for us? Getting to work on time, access to green spaces, having our rubbish (and that of our neighbours) taken away, libraries and community facilities.
‘‘In November last year I wrote to you about ‘ RatesBusters’ – a group formed locally to protest over the proposed rates increases and diminishing services under the Auckland Long Term Plan. Our message is simple. We stand for residential rates increases (per household) of no more than the annual rate of inflation.
‘‘Residential rates must be spent on core services.
‘‘No additional levies and taxes on household ratepayers.’’
From Aidan Crabtree: ‘‘Is everyone aware that the Auckland Council has gone ahead with its house fire ban, the so-called decision that was to be put off until February?
‘‘It was, in fact, a decision already made and put on the backburner* until a more convenient time, like in summer.
‘‘Would anyone with any concern for democracy please complain now and tell these people what you think of them.
‘‘Auckland is being run like a large company, not a city of free people.’’
(*Question: Did Aidan intend that backburner pun?)
Garry Hawks: ‘‘Auckland Council’s stated commitment ‘ to provide affordable social housing for eligible pensioners’ is a sham given this proposal to fleece those constituents who are least able to pay.
‘‘I am a 68-year-old pensioner living in an Auckland Council flat in Bridge Court, Mangere Bridge. Auckland Council’s 10-year budget proposes changing the method for calculating pensioners’ rent. The council wants to set the rent at 30 per cent of before-tax income.
‘‘My present rent is $83.50 per week. The proposed rent will be $126.50 – a $43 per week (51 per cent) increase!
‘‘Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) is the country’s largest and most experienced landlord with 68,000 tenancies. HNZC’s formula for pensioners’ rent is 25 per cent of after-tax income.
‘‘Council’s double whammy of a higher percentage of a higher income figure forces all tenants to seek partial financial reprieve from WINZ through an Accommodation Supplement (AS).
‘‘AS is only approved once WINZ determines that the pensioner’s rent cannot be afforded from their superannuation.
‘‘Council has proposed capping the increase to $15 per week each year until the new rent is reached. Even ratepayers are not expected to pay an increase of more than $10 per week and they are offered financial relief if required to pay more than the $10 threshold.’’
Familiar words from Hutt mayor Ray Wallace: ‘‘The Local Government Commission’s proposal was in total opposition to what the community wanted.
‘‘We know there are a few people who have been very vocal about having a super uber-council for the Wellington region but clearly the majority of people, the grass-roots people of this region, do not want it.’’
Just like a loud echo from Auckland.
Thumbs up: Or should it be thumbs down?