Gundry's Grumbles

Simon Gundry is a Devonport and North Shore identity, and character, who is known for calling a spade a spade. He is a director of contracting company Gill & Gundry, is an enthusiastic and active sailor (past crew-member of Ceramco New Zealand, Lion New Zealand and Shockwave) and is a life member of the North Shore Rugby Football Club.

Gundry's Gumbles

Masters’ Games fantastic, but...

Happy May everybody. We are almost halfway through the year again. Anzac Day was stunning in Devonport last month, and it was great to see so many competitors in the Masters’ Games out and about, many of them down at our soldiers’ Memorial in Devonport on Anzac Day, paying homage to the fallen soldiers. The numbers I chatted to were really loving the experience of (1) being in New Zealand and (2) being able to participate again in their chosen sports. As I said in last month’s column, there is no reason why we can’t have the Commonwealth Games in this country, sharing it around, as we seem to thrive in organising these events as it has been proved so often.  The Masters’ Games is a case in point.
I hate taking bits out of newspapers, so could somebody please make any sense out of this?  I saw a small article in the Flagstaff recently, and I’ll quote it verbatim as a lot of you aren’t privileged to get the Flagstaff, which is really a watchdog newspaper for the citizens of Devonport.
“Playground Audits to Cost $63,000”
An inventory of local playgrounds, their shade provision and signing, will cost the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board a whopping $63,000. This includes a play-space audit for $24,000 a sun-smart audit for $15,000 and a signage audit for $24,000.
The “audits” were proposed by senior policy advisor Tristan Coulson, who asked council’s Parks and Places unit to identify a project to guide future park investments.
Mike Cohen was the lone board member to object to the spend. He suggested he and board member Jennifer McKenzie should take a tour of all local parks instead.
Coulson’s report says the audits will guide future funding of play spaces, improve the shade provision at playgrounds and improve signage at parks and reserves.
So could somebody please, explain to me what all this really means and what do they intend to do for $63,000?
And, while we are on playgrounds, I see that the Windsor Reserve playground in Devonport will be allocated another $5,000 by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board to ensure the locals get another chance to comment on the new proposed playground, to be known as Bean’s Beacon. This new playground has been costed at $435,000.  This isn’t due to be built until early next year, so in the meantime they’ve allocated a sum of $4,600 to fix the existing slide. Dear me, you could build a whole new slide for that, surely?  
Now, I’ve got a real good grumble on this one... I cannot believe that the Auckland Council has dispensed with the local firm “Recreational Services”, in favour of using an Australian company, for the maintenance of the Shore’s parks, sporting fields and berms. Recreational Services has been doing this work since 1994. I have heard from my impeccable sources, very close to the rock face, that Recreational Services will be laying off over 150 workers from its North Shore workforce. I see that the Auckland Council Contracts management was quoted as saying that Recreational Services was unsuccessful in retaining the contract because they could only perform a portion of the work the new contract includes. “We are doing things quite differently, we are combining some areas of our business that have never been combined before to ensure that there are efficiencies.”
I am actually so angry about this decision, and really feel for the people at Recreational Services, who have not only been a very efficient, well managed local company but have put so much back into our local community, with various sponsorship arrangements, usually at the grass roots of a lot of our sports. I am also led to believe that this Australian company, Ventia, has little to no experience of sports field maintenance on the North Shore of Auckland. So it will be very, very interesting to watch, come July 1st, when the new contractor takes over, to see how our playing surfaces, line marking, cricket wicket maintenance and all the associated bits and pieces are going to look in six months’ time.  
I cannot believe that Auckland Council could not have to come to an arrangement with Recreational Services to ensure their ongoing contract. To remove a local business from a contract, after providing decades of good service is absolutely abhorrent to the way I think. Who on earth at Council makes these decisions, that affect so many people – I would love to know, and I’m sure lots of others would too. Is there no loyalty in this world any more? I would like to demand a full enquiry as to how Recreational Services lost this contract. I have been told that this new company will perform a holistic maintenance programme. I guess this means everything from cleaning the public toilets to maintaining the sports fields. I just don’t think you can have all your eggs in one basket like that. I think somebody in the Northcote area, like the local MP Jonathan Coleman, should be asked to look into this.  
I read somewhere recently that somebody thought it would be a good idea to put a tram line down Lake Road, from the Akoranga Bus Station to the ferry buildings in Devonport. I have never heard such a stupid idea in my whole life. Can you imagine, running right down the middle of Lake Road, a tram?  Now that would really shag the whole of Lake Road, as we all know. There’s not enough room for it, for a start. This is just mere idiot thinking.
Okay, that’s it for this month.  No doubt by the time next month’s column rolls around I’ll have found something else to growl about.  But those who know me, know I’m not really a grumpy person.

By Simon Gundry

Channel Magazine: Issue 76 May 2017

Columnist articles by Simon Gundry