Are you aware that fundamental community democracy is being significantly eroded? Failure by us to be alert to what is happening will result in unexpected shocks.
You may recall the last round of Rodney Local Board ‘Have Your Say’ events where the various aspects of the proposed budget/plan were up for discussion. Subsequent submissions against the proposed $150 per property targeted rate for roading, footpaths and park and rides, were in the majority. The Local Board is bound to act in accordance with submissions. That is democracy in action. Faced with dropping a ‘rates grab’ for the purpose proposed, our Local Board, at their business meeting on 24th May (minutes are on Auckland Council website) decided to go ahead with the targeted rate, but for the purpose of funding two bus routes which have some community support. Helensville-Kaukapakapa-Silverdale and Kumeu-Coatesville-Albany. There has not been democratic consultation on this. Costs? Financial feasibility? The Rodney Local Board is putting this decision forward to Auckland Council to vote on striking the rate.
Now it passes to our Councillor, Greg Sayers, to have input. However he is in the minority of Councillors who are fighting to keep rates down. Mayor Phil Goff has the ‘numbers’ (majority support of Councillors) to simply pass it. Phil and his gang are out to grab any extra revenue they can, at our expense.
Yes, these buses would be very appreciated by some. But democracy has not been honoured. And we are paying!
Since originally writing this Auckland Council has indeed voted to strike a $150 targeted rate in Rodney.
A recent planning consent application for a community facility received just one objection (other than some late submissions from a small group of neighbouring rest home residents whose management had given signed approval earlier). The objection was from the Deputy Chair of Rodney Local Board and was contrary to the completely supportive letter written when the matter was brought to the Board in 2016, by then Chair Brenda Steele – when a different group of Board members were in place. As the matter had not been discussed at Local Board level since 2016, this objection did not arise from any democratic process. Further, the author of the objection has a commercial conflict of interest over the subject land and was excluded from debate in 2016 for that reason.
Our Local Board leadership are defying democracy.
The same influence is applied to the north west business community – North West Country Business Improvement District (BID). The petition I led seeking a re-ballot of members to determine whether there is still adequate support for the BID, gained 295 signatures. The BID deemed only 76 to be valid, without any reason given. That was, however, still more than three times the number required for the petition to succeed. The BID management/board have stated they are ignoring the petition and ‘moving on’. During my efforts on this matter I have acquired the Auckland Council North West BID rates data base. Business property owners and business operators will be stunned to learn that the targeted rates grab gathers over $34,000 more than the $180,000 we are told is received and passed to the BID.So Auckland Council has a secret little fund from ripping off the business community. No wonder Council is also ignoring the petition. Democracy is being trampled on and now the Deputy Chair of the Rodney Local Board, who has been local board representative on the BID board from its inception, has been appointed manager of the BID. Massive conflict of interest.
Unless we stand up, we are going to be tyrannised by the current Rodney Local Board and Auckland Council.
Joining and participating in your local ratepayers group is one way you can make your voice heard.
Te Awaroa Residents and Ratepayers Association (Helensville and Parakai) is holding an AGM on 18th July with our new MP Chris Penk as guest speaker.
There are also ratepayers groups for South Head, Shelly Beach and Kaukapakapa (plus Kumeu/Huapai and Riverhead).
There is some interest in these groups combining on matters of mutual interest. Fundamental democracy fits this brief.