Auckland Council obviously doesn’t bother to look back on past mistakes by previous versions of the original Auckland City Council. They should take the time to read Graham WA Bush’s “Advance In Order” written in 1991, with a council committee overview under Cath Tizard, the then Mayor of Auckland City. This book covered the events and history time line from 1971 to 1989. Further valuable information is also available from Graham Bush’s earlier book “Decently and in Order”. A look at the later volume discusses the total disaster of closing Queen Street during the middle 1980s into a pedestrian only street, with only the cross streets Wellesley, Victoria and Customs Streets having restricted traffic.
City Planners (my favourite people) never seem to learn that businesses paying high rates and suddenly losing custom and the vitality of a business street, (perhaps the most important street in New Zealand) is certainly not in anyone’s interest, to shut of this busy vital street. Yet this faceless council which has distanced itself from much of its responsibilities intends to do this all over again. I doubt they even know it been TRIED BEFORE! This council prefers contractors for almost everything, and to solve the pressure from irate ratepayers Councillors hide behind security. It’s pretty much impossible to get past the barrier at the city council building in Albert Street, to have a meaningful discussion with a councillor or a bureaucrat. So what have the planners come up with again? Close Queen Street to vehicles! Surely someone has looked back at past disasters and said stop! What the hell are we doing? Oh, but this is only a trial they say, it’s only costing a MILLION for a trial! What planet have these shadow councillors come from? They are supposedly running the city, but seem to have little to say, allowing the bureaucrats to do mostly what they like. And you question why your rates continue to climb? Since when has $1 million been trial expenditure? I would love to see the costing evaluation. But if you want to see the shambles closing the street will create, just use some existing removable road bollards, works department have plenty. Drop into the street a few big pots with trees from the council gardens department up and down the street, some plastic seating furniture all which the council has and this will only cost a few workmen, a couple of Council trucks, pots and trees from Council nurseries below the domain and you have your temp trial if you must. All up maybe a figure in the lower thousands to hire out and charge for their own equipment in this user pays society. Delivery and pickup when it’s finally realised this is a bad idea and doesn’t work. But no way do you get $1 million. It is no wonder that a group of businessmen are taking the council to court over this stupid idea. Is this the most outlandish idea to come from this Council? Short answer NO. Look at the parking shambles they created in Pt Chev, St Helier’s and other places. Look at the costly mostly unused bike lanes and facilities which very few people use, paid for by the long suffering ratepayers, and not counting the major disruption to the traffic flow.
This council is totally out of hand and common sense is non- existent. A trip to Motat will surprise you - all exhibits are labelled in Maori with an afterthought secondary English offering. I was a former board member of Motat (a Council property) many years ago, what Maori have to do with aircraft history or most of these artefacts mystifies me. Things that are Maori should be labelled in Maori but this hardly applies to the rest of the Motat collection. Is this just another example of this PC Council or what?
Let’s look at Pukekohe! We have another scheme here to “improve” the town by closing streets, putting the market into the city square and closing half the main street, the eastern side of this street already the host of two dollar shops etc, how exactly will this proposal benefit the business area? We are seeing the effects of hardship already, good popular businesses going to the wall, never recovering from the lockdowns which are unfortunately a fact of life at this present time. So why is the Auckland Council via its local committee pushing another expensive trial and what is it costing? Already several businesses have moved from Pukekohe rather than deal with the council bureaucrats. The fact remains in the end the money comes from rates we get to pay, whilst the Council plays “close a street” games and our businesses lose every time.
Now is the time to be looking at what can be done to help business survive, keep valuable shops open and put the earthquake building requirements on hold until financially our businesses can recover. A reality check shows most of Pukekohe will not meet these earthquake regulations and will result in derelict buildings or the owners demolishing them, but unable to meet the cost of rebuilding. That’s another subject about Auckland Council outlandish rip off charges costing expensive delays and an unenviable reputation in the building industry as a rapacious greedy spendthrift council. I for one will never build a multi-story commercial building in Auckland ever again.
One good thing that seems to have happened in this economic climate is the postponement of the proposed harbour bridge walkway/cycleway, quite apart from the fact the bridge foundations were never meant for the clip-on weight the bridge carries. But at least the weight was evenly distributed which would not be the case with the walkway weight loading one side of the bridge. I would love to see the calculations for this and I think it would prove to be very suspect. But that’s another article in the future I can feel coming on.
Trevor Rogers is a former Member of Parliament, serving two terms from 1990 to 1996.