Are you prepared to pay extra in rates to help control pests and protect kauri from die-back disease? If so, how much? It’s time to have your say on this and a myriad of other issues facing Auckland.
By Bruce Morris
Don’t we just love it when we find the council or the local board has slipped up, or fallen short of what we expect.
Off we charge to Facebook and tell the world what a bunch of idiots they are (muppets seems to be the favoured derogatory term), as if all politicians and bureaucrats are self-serving arrogant dolts who never listen to what the community wants.
“No one asked me,” we wail. “Why wasn’t I told?”
We are indignant and all-knowing, especially in retrospect, and we have no interest in someone telling us when it’s too late to change things; and that, sorry, but you were informed about this and you were asked for your thoughts.
Informed – how exactly? In newspaper ads and stories, letterbox flyers, at public meetings and information sessions, on the council website, might be the reply. Even Mt Albert Inc.
Which brings the retort: That’s not consultation. I need you to discuss this with me personally and hear my feedback before you decide to do what you want to do.
Great – that’s an extra $1000 on rate bills to pay for more PR and marketing troops and an army of door-knockers to tell us what we can’t be bothered finding out ourselves.
Really, we are a slack mob, and that’s reflected in the miserable turnout for local body elections every three years. We just don’t seem to care until it’s too late and something bites us on the bum.
[Apathy hasn’t always been Mt Albert’s way, as noted in this link to Mt Albert Inc’s “Stepping back in time” column.]
It’s up to the council to provide quality information on what’s planned and spread it widely and it’s up to us to get off our backsides and absorb the detail.
That’s how the democratic system is meant to work – with the incentive of elections to keep the politicians on their toes.
Of course, councils and their agencies get things wrong or fail to listen. As well there’s the regular feeling “consultation” is meaningless – that minds have already been made up and asking for feedback to a declared plan is designed to placate rather than embrace.
But democracy is also about engaging, keeping in touch – not about sitting back, clinging to Facebook, expecting to be spoon-fed and groaning like hell when something happens that we don’t like.
Where is all this heading? Ah, good question!
Are you aware the Albert Eden Local Board is at the moment looking for your feedback on Auckland Council’s 10-year plan? If you’re not, don’t blame anyone but yourself; it’s been very widely publicised.
This is a big deal – our civic leaders laying out priorities, plans and projects and how they will be paid for (with our rate money).
The board has its own priorities and this post on Our Auckland outlines them and explains how to give your feedback. If the internet is a mystery, pick up a consultation document and feedback form from Mt Albert library.
Your views may be different to those of the board, which sees these as the key local priorities:
- Provide funding to the community to identify, maintain and care for notable trees;
- Work with neighbouring local boards and community groups to develop joint management plans for Te Auaunga / Oakley Creek and Waititiko / Meola Creek;
- Investigate the creation of a cycling and walking connection between St Lukes and Greenlane train station;
- Support local businesses to implement sustainable practices, such as alternatives to putting fat and oil down drains, or reducing plastic bag usage;
- Advocate for a replacement aquatic centre in Albert-Eden..
Dig further on that site and you will find a range of issues of wider importance to the supercity – all clearly detailed and explained:
- A regional fuel tax to pay for improvements to the city’s transport system;
- Protecting endangered species, like kauri, and how to pay for it;
- Rating online accommodation providers (like Airbnb);
- Cleaning up harbours, beaches and streams – and paying for it;
- The council’s approach to an average general rates increase.
This is important stuff dealing with our lives and money and we have until March 28 to make submissions.
Last night, the volunteers of St Lukes Environmental Protection Society (STEPS) joined a group of other Mt Albert people in presenting to the local board at a public session – as the rest of us stayed dry in front of the TV.
They represent us all, surely, in wishing for cleaner streams and beaches, and they support the mayor’s push for a special rate to tackle storm water problems.
What do you think about that – and issues like the board’s drive for a public pool to stay in this area once the aquatic centre closes? Worth standing up and being counted?
While plenty are doing their best to improve what we have, too many of us sit back and blame busy lives. It’s time to get engaged and have our say.