Happy New Year to you all and I hope you had a stress free Festive Season, as I did with friends and family in the Bay of Islands. Sailing, walking, barbecuing, gunkholing in a small boat up the many tidal estuaries that lie beyond the expanse of the deep blue water. It is indeed a wonderful part of the world.
I had a catch up with Aidan Bennett, the publisher of this fine magazine, about a few new terms and conditions in relation to my writing these articles over the last few years. The main condition is that this article is to appear within the first five pages of the magazine instead of being buried on or about page 164 as has been the case in previous years (Oooopppps! - AB). The other condition is that he takes me fishing on his world class luxury sports fishing boat, which is moored at Westhaven Marina (Not True - AB). Another condition is that he takes me to lunch at the Viaduct once every six months (If he's good - AB). Ok, it will be interesting to see where all this goes, I’ll keep you posted.
Here’s one for you – on or about October 2018, Auckland Transport blocked off the bottom of Church Street, Devonport on the waterfront, right through to the intersection of Albert Road and Vauxhall Road, just prior to the Cheltenham shops. They coned off the whole area so nobody could park, and during one night they completely spray painted all the lines, the parking areas, yellow lines for no parking, everything was all freshly repainted. Church Street and Vauxhall Road were all done. So come the middle of December, the little safety cones reappeared so that the people couldn’t park again. So what happened over the next couple of days was that the entire stretch of road was chip sealed thereby covering all the newly painted sparkling white and yellow lines that had been done barely a month earlier. The chip seal was done over a couple of really hot days, and many neighbours and residents’ cars were covered in tar and chips on the underside of their vehicles. Then miraculously a few weeks later, all the line markers appeared again and all the lines were redone. Why were the lines marked in October just to have them sealed over in December and redone a few weeks later? And, why was the road rechipped when it seemed in perfectly reasonable condition, and, for a busy road, why was it not tarsealed instead of chipped?
Here’s another one for you – Auckland Transport, in their wisdom, have completely reconfigured the intersection at Clarence Street and Wynyard Street without any consultation with the Local Board, so the men at the coalface tell me. This has cost some $300,000 and is supposedly to make pedestrian traffic safer. The work is second rate, using commercial kerbing instead of bluestone, which would be more in keeping with the Devonport Heritage areas as has previously been done. They have planted, in the macrocarpa planter box, some ten plants, which will become a weed infested, cigarette butt receptacle in no time. In the meantime, the weeds are growing prolifically in the kerbing around the Borough.
If you can deal with another one – I read recently that the Local Board commissioned a report costing $39,000 for someone to inspect two small parks, one at Kiwi Road and the other in Plymouth Reserve. Of this amount, $24,000 was for play space assessment and $15,000 for a SunSmart audit. How can it cost so much for a Council official to drive around in their little silver cars and have a quick look at a couple of parks.
And, what about the EV ride-share scheme? In an effort to get people to use the ferry, Auckland Transport and NZTA have bought three vans at $80,000 each and are using three electric cars from the AT Fleet to transport people to and from the ferry. The service can also be used for other trips around Devonport. Rides to the ferry will cost $2.50 until next month, and then will be $3. Rides around Devonport will be $5. This is in addition to the bus service which is already in existence and seems to work reasonably well. To quote Mike Sheehy, one of the Local Board members, “each ride is subsidized by $14 per ride, and if the ride share operates at its optimum the subsidy will be $19,600 per week”. So are the ratepayers heavily subsidizing what is effectively an Uber service?
I think we all need to keep an eye on what is happening in our local areas, there is far too much wastage of Ratepayers’ money, and remember there are Local Body Elections this year.