Orakei Local Board (OLB) and Meadowbank and St Johns Residents Association (MBSJRA) held an information evening on February 26 to help locals better understand Auckland Council’s Long-term Plan and 10 year budget (Household Summary and submission document pictured on right) in time for the submission deadline of 4pm, March 16. We heard from three groups:
- Orakei Local Board Chair Desley Simpson and Councillor Cameron Brewer
- Carmel Claridge and Paul Markham from the ‘RatesBusters’ action group
- Aaron Hutching from Auckland Transport about the Eastern Path (aka the Tamaki Drive to Glen Innes shared walk/cycleway).
A summary of what we heard is below.
Presentation from Orakei Local Board
Desley Simpson walked us through what the Long-term Plan will mean for Orakei residents. In a nutshell, despite ratepayers in Orakei ward contributing the highest rates in Auckland (estimated to be $1 billion dollars over 10 years), and rates forecast to increase by at least 6.5% on average in Orakei ward , less than 10% of those rates will be spent on projects within the ward.
The only projects in Orakei to receive funding in this Long-term Plan (i.e. until FY2020/2021) are lights at Ngapipi/Kepa Rd intersection, three sets of traffic lights on Orakei Rd at the Orakei Point development, and a ‘Meadowbank Park and Ride’.
Among the projects in Orakei Local Board’s long term plan that are not receiving funding or have funding deferred are:
- Tamaki Drive Master Plan projects. Despite residents from all over Auckland (and beyond) coming to use Tamaki Drive’s roads, cycleways, beaches and amenities, there is no plan to invest in the area to improve it e.g. with separated cycle/walkways.
- Meadowbank Community Centre upgrade
- Michael’s Ave Park Stage 3
- Madill’s Farm/Glover Park/Crossfield Park upgrades
- Hobson Bay walkway extension
- St Heliers Library Extension
- Hobson Bay Action Plan.
–> The developer of the Orakei Point development has confirmed the traffic lights are part of the development budget, and we understand from Auckland Transport that there is no such thing as a Meadowbank Park and Ride as it is within the 10km exclusion zone for park and rides! So effectively apart from the intersection at Ngapipi/Kepa Rds, there is no spending at all budgeted for Orakei in the next ten years.
–> Make sure you include some of the other projects above in your submission!
Misleading transport options in Household Summary
Desley then walked us through the Transport options in the Long-term Plan. In the pictured Household Summary and submission form, Aucklanders are being asked to submit on whether they prefer one of two options: a ‘Basic Transport Network’ requiring an average of 3.5% rates rise (i.e. 6.5% in Orakei ward) or the ‘Auckland Plan Transport Network’ (see Household Summary booklet for details).
-> Key points are that ratepayers do have the right to reject both options in their submissions if they disagree with the rates increases, projects and timings (e.g. City Rail Link) outlined under each plan.
CCOs (Council Controlled Organisations)
Cr Cameron Brewer talked briefly about replacing two CCOs with a new development agency. This is covered in Question 3 in the Household Summary booklet.
-> Key points to consider is whether you think the new agency, which would be run by private interests, would serve ratepayers well.
Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC)
-> A higher UAGC would reduce the rates burden on Orakei ward ratepayers.
Mark Topham from local action group ‘RatesBusters’ presented next. RatesBusters recently formed to advocate on behalf of those who are concerned about projected rates rises, the financial management of ratepayer money by Auckland Council, and reduced investment back into local communities. They have calculated that local rates are likely to double in the next 7 years, according to the below graph:
RatesBusters have prepared a Long-term Plan submission document that advocates Council returning to core services and that rates should increase no more than the rate of inflation. If you share these views, you can join the group by emailing Mark on email@example.com or Carmel on firstname.lastname@example.org. They can send you more information and a draft submission for the Long-term Plan.
Latest updates on the Eastern Path from Auckland Transport rep Aaron Hutching:
- Section 1 from Glen Innes – St Johns Rd will be the first to begin construction and is currently in consent application phase.
- Section 2 (of most interest to our area) from St Johns Rd – Meadowbank is in ‘technical survey’ phase. The technical team is also looking at feasibility of connecting the walkway to Selwyn College
- Feedback received from a local meeting in Meadowbank & St Johns about the pathway last November showed that locals thought access options to the pathway needed improving. The below image is a slide from Aaron’s presentation showing feedback received so far.
- Desley Simpson pointed out that access points into the path from Gowing Drive will be looked at from local board level. The path is funded by central government so additional connections will cost money which will be funded locally (this is a good item to mentioned in the Long-term Plan submission document.)