Memo Welling­ton: Don’t do it!

Auckland City Harbour News - - OPINION -

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?

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