4 | Hibiscusmatters 15 December 2010
All tied up
Someone is obviously determined that this tree remains in place. It was spotted by a reader in Puhoi.
Penlink heads for back burner
Any progress on the Penlink Road may have stalled following the independent review commissioned by the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) and supported by the former Rodney District Council. The report considered the robustness of the business case in the hope of encouraging the NZ Transport Agency to move Penlink up the queue for Government funding. Although the former Council expected the report to go before the Transport Agency, this now looks unlikely. Both Auckland Transport (which has taken on ARTA’s functions) and the Transport Agency are unsure of the current situation regarding the report, with each saying it is now in the domain of the other. Even the former Rodney mayor, once dubbed ‘Penny Link’ by Transport Minister Stephen Joyce, is unsure what happened to the report. How much the report cost ARTA is unclear, but commissioning six experts for eight months’ work does not come cheap. The draft summary of the report stated that the business case put forward by the former Council was robust, on the basis of the figures provided. However, it also suggested that the figures needed more work and pointed out that the public private partnership upon which the project relies (together with Government subsidy), could be a risky enterprise for any company prepared to take it on. For more than 10 years Penlink has been promoted as a cure-all for the Hibiscus Coast’s transport problems, which have been caused by population growth in a region where commuting is the norm. The former Council and those residents who strongly support the road did their utmost to get it built, but funding has always fallen at the last hurdle. As a result, a lot of time, energy and money has gone into promoting Penlink with, apart from a designated route, little to show for it. Auckland Transport and Council now need to put their muscle behind the project for it to have any chance of success. Although Len Brown has indicated support for Penlink, his preference is for public transport and there is no doubt that other Auckland roading projects are considered to be more pressing. Penlink has been championed by Rodney MP Lockwood Smith, and the Prime Minister, but in the end, Government funding comes down to value for money. Perhaps the change in governance is a chance for fresh thinking: to reassess the options for the Hibiscus Coast and put energy into finding alternative, affordable, sustainable solutions that benefit the whole Coast and which might actually get implemented.
Christmas – duh?
Hibiscus Matters has had a lot of Christmas events to cover recently, so perhaps one of our journalists could be forgiven for a blunder when the organisers of the Christmas Day Community Lunch rang in the details of their event. “What date is the Christmas Day lunch?” the journalist enquired. “December 25th,” came the firm reply.
You may not think of Auckland Council as a graceful swan, swimming on the still waters of a lake, but that is exactly the analogy drawn by Gill Plume, one of the Council’s economic development advisers, at a recent meeting in Orewa. “Auckland Council may look like a swan gliding smoothly along, but in reality its 8200 staff are all paddling furiously underneath,” Gill said.
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Over payment issue not over I read in Hibiscus Matters November 17) about our ex-mayor authorising an overpayment of $42,000 to the exRodney CEO. Your paper informed us that not only was the total payment
to Mr Kerr-Newell extravagant, but that Mrs Webster took it on herself rather than consulting with Councillors, to decide on the amount of the payment. No sign of an apology
from her if she made an error of judgement. The action was in breach of the Transitional Provisions Act. We will have to monitor carefully Mrs Webster’s actions as chair of Auckland
Council’s finance committee to ensure she abides by the regulations and policies of that committee. Winsbury White, Whangaparaoa (abridged)
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