At the Auckland Branch meeting on 30 August Right Hon Peter Dunne MP opened the meeting and provided feedback on the action taking place at The Beehive.
Peter expressed disappointment at how little acknowledgement UnitedFuture receives for the successes pushed through on the Party’s behalf by Peter in Parliament. With 10 year passports set to be coming back this year, we need to ensure that UnitedFuture gets the credit it’s due thanks to Peter’s perseverance.
The bulk of the meeting then discussed the draft Manifesto for Auckland. There are key issues to discuss. You do not have to spend much time reading, watching or listening to news about Auckland to know that despite all the surveys which tell us Aucklanders what we already know, that although this is a great place to live, there is much about our city as a whole which is broken.
First, the increasing shortage of housing for rent and the runaway rising house prices. Young families unable to get on to the housing ladder and a shortage of rental properties resulting in queues of applicants and spiralling rents. The only realistic answer has been for people to move further away from the city. Further away from work and forcing an increasing number of drivers onto the same narrow commuter corridors. The result is increasing congestion, increasing the cost of getting to work and adding pollution to the environment. There’s no other choice and there could be.
Secondly, the rates. Long accepted as the best way to finance local government, the increase in property valuations resulting from the out of control rise in house prices has served to fuel rises in rates demands. This has resulted where people are struggling to meet these new demands and some people are effectively being forced from their homes. Is it really a great place to live when you are one of those being ‘financially evicted’ from homes, which sometimes may have been in families for generations, only now to find the value has outstripped ability to afford to pay to have your rubbish collected? The rating system is a broken method of finance and needs reform or replacing.
Thirdly, traffic management in Auckland is lamentable. It is as if the system is designed to prevent traffic from flowing. The only form of traffic management that is really taken seriously is the use of traffic lights. Endless series of unconnected lights, each with at least four phases, means that by the time you get a green you are likely to be caught by the next set 50 metres away, where the whole farce is repeated. Even at weekends the same conditions prevent traffic flowing even when there are few vehicles on the road. There the additional sets of lights which then get deployed following retail developments, which add to the stop go pace. Perhaps the funding of these are a condition for approval but in many circumstances they merely add another obstacle to traffic flow. As a result, traffic baulked by the lights on the arterial roads seeks ways around the blockages through residential streets, where, unfettered by the absence of traffic calming measures, many vehicles pass through at high speed in order to get round traffic jams, with little thought to the safety of children, pets or other vulnerable pedestrians who might accidentally find themselves in the way.
Fourthly, there is the inadequate public transport system. From the north the effectiveness of the bus service into town is restricted by the inadequate parking facilities available to willing commuters. With many car parks full by 7 o’clock, frustrated travellers have no other choice but to take their car. Recent attempts to penalise these drivers by large increases in car park charges is frustrating for those forced to take their cars because the public transport infrastructure is inadequate. South of the bridge the picture is no better, as cars fill the car parks early at railway stations such as Glen Innes. The railway service, with its great new trains, doesn’t serve the increasing number of people moving southward to Pokeno, Huntly and other settlements due to the spiralling house prices.
Five key policies are under review for finalising in October prior to the official Manifesto for Auckland launch.
If you are interested in learning more or would be interested in standing for Auckland Council in 2016, please contact Damian Light: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Thompson, Board Member.