All that groundwork of building relationships with elected members and Auckland Council staff has paid off for the mother of two, who takes a hand-on approach to her work.
With a background in design, marketing and project management, she says taking the time to build relationships is always worthwhile. “That’s especially true when you are dealing with things you need help with.”
It was a wonderful challenge to take on the Chair role, and after getting an understanding of the board’s committees and roles, she dived straight into Auckland Council’s 30 years plan refresh - the region’s long-term vision and spatial plan, attending workshops with the governing body councillors to ensure a rural perspective was heard.
“I made sure I attended all the workshops, a process that included pitching the board’s One Local Initiative (OLI), where all 21 Auckland boards could put forward an additional project for funding.”
For Franklin, that meant pushing hard to advance the Karaka Sports Park development.
Provided the business case stacks up, construction of a new pavilion and a larger scale sports, leisure and recreation hub, adjacent to the existing sports complex, will begin.
Angela says given the number of communities across the Franklin Local Board area – one of the largest geographic board areas, several other initiatives were also considered, but the board came together on Karaka.
“Our board area encompasses many townships and settlements that all have requirements, and board members were good advocates for their own areas, but it was a case of what was best positioned already, had established community backing, and would give the greatest outcome to address a growing population.”
“Karaka Sports Park’s development will strengthen the already strong rugby club and provide the community, and others around it, with improved access to different sports from rugby to pilates, and it fits well with the board’s live local, work local approach”, Angela says.
With unprecedented population growth, she says the board must maintain a balance, and the residential development in Franklin, especially in Paerata and Drury, needs to be balanced with space for businesses in commercial zones.
“It’s important we keep that in mind, because you can’t turn everything into housing or you just compound traffic congestion and social disconnection.”
Traffic concerns occupy a lot of her time, and transport and Infrastructure are some of the more challenging aspects of her role, but she says a shift in thinking is critical. “Living local, working local is about council planning, transport provision, fast broadband, healthcare and education providers all working towards improving our quality of life.”
“One thing you can rely on is change, and it creates opportunities, not just with employment, but services like building or developing parks. More people means more viable services, and we are seeing that in better public transport, but it also means that, at a local level, more people join sport or community groups. There are benefits.”
But as a population grows, so does the need for maintenance of existing infrastructure, and the need to plan for more residents and their needs.
“We know people get frustrated and think everything happens too slowly, but prioritisation and patience are key to the way projects and initiatives are handled, and a sensible work programme is the way council manages that.”
She says the aim is to have a three-year work programme, so projects can be worked on at the same time, but to retain the ability to move to another project if there are delays or changes in the scale of works.
“We’ve earmarked more than 40 projects for our local capex budget, which is up to $2million for a three-year period, so you have to prioritise that carefully, moving forward bit by bit.”
“It certainly means we can’t do everything.”
But that doesn’t stop her or her board members encouraging communities to bring ideas forward. “That’s how we stay engaged with what is happening in the community, and I’d encourage anyone with an idea to talk to a board member or suggest through the annual “Have your Say” public consultation.”
“Waiuku and Wairoa subdivision board members hold monthly community clinics where you can come along and talk through any ideas, and all board members are contactable by email or in person.”
Angela says coming to the board also helps the public become aware of how it functions, and its processes, especially on project timeframes.
“If we hear an idea early enough, and there is broad support for it amongst the community, we can include it in the board’s three-year plan, or in a work programme.”
Next up is improving the board’s communication with the public to highlight how it works as part of Auckland Council, what decisions are being made and why, and projects being worked on.
“We do find ourselves having to follow up on a lot of things that residents should really just report to the council helpline, so there should be more information for the public on how to do that.”
With 2019 upon us, Angela and her team are ready for more, and are looking forward to completing projects already on the work programme, deciding what’s next, advocating on transport, and providing for growth.