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JOHN ELLIOTT: SOAP BOX NO IFS, NO BUTS - NO PRIVATISATION Newly appointed Waitemata Local Board Chairman Shale Chambers is an intelligent, articulate, if quite serious, commercial lawyer, and a longtime behind-the-scenes City Vision executive member. He looks younger than his 50 years. By serious, I mean that he chooses his words carefully and iterates his views in a measured way - as befits his 15 years heading local law firm Chambers Craig Jarvis in Ponsonby Road. But when it comes to discussing public assets, and possibilities for privatisation (eg. Water) Chambers face lights up, and he becomes very animated. This is an area of passionate interest to him. “No ifs, no buts, no privatisation”, he tells me, emphasising that he made that point loud and clear at his induction as Chairman last week. “Water”, he says, “is a human right and needs to be delivered at the lowest price possible. There are costs of renewal, and delivery, plus reasonable usage charges. But no price gouging under my watch,” he vows. He opposes sale of any public assets. Of course Chambers knows only too well that while he has a sympathetic Board (five of the seven are fellow City Vision team members) and a Councillor in the vastly experienced Mike Lee who shares his philosophy, too many decisions might still be made behind closed doors by Rodney Hide-appointed, right wing bureaucrats. Shale Chambers is quick to point out that he, and other left-leaning politicians will reach across the aisle to accommodate opposing views, but he acknowledges that people who stand for something group together to discuss it, both formally and informally. So party caucusing may not be a thing of the past. Shale says it will be a luxury and a pleasure to be able to work with Mike Lee as Waitemata Councillor. “I’ve worked with him for many years - he’s a consensus person, who unites people across the aisle.” The new Local Boards will have much more power than the old Community Boards did, believes Chambers. “Ours will be a co-governance model, but we are keen as mustard for the Council and the CCOs to delegate local issues to us.” “If we get a local call about a broken footpath, we are part of the problem, and we want to be part of the solution,” says Chambers.

Pictured left to right: CHRISTOPHER DEMPSEY, GREG MOYLE, JESSE CHALMERS, PIPPA COOM (Deputy Chairperson), PATRICIA READE, ROB THOMAS and SHALE CHAMBERS (Chairperson) Protection of this heritage is a passion of Chambers which he shares particularly with board members Christopher Dempsey, a planner from Parnell and Tricia Reade of City Fringe Inc. of Ponsonby. Unlike many of our city villages, the Waitemata Ward is a series of business districts, and so the health of the business economy is vital to our success. Chambers commercial law experience will be a decided asset. Shale is full of praise for his team on the board — all six of them. They have strong local roots, involvement over many years in great local activities. Four are keen cyclists, who share Len Brown’s vision for public transport. Many of Mayor Brown’s visionary projects are within the Waitemata Ward boundaries. Chambers and his team will strongly support the mayor wherever they can. Strong local consultation is very important, asserts Chambers. “We mean real consultation,” says Shale. Then the Board can advance community ideas to the Council. “Our board is inviting itself to the party,” is how Shale describes it.

Although this is the first time Shale Chambers has stood for a local community position, he was for two terms on the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust (he was in fact the only non C and R candidate to ever be re-elected for a second term). The new Chairman sees the new Board area as a compatible mix — people live in Parnell for similar reasons that people live in Ponsonby, he says. Both are inner city heritage areas, with a common historical connection.

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Shale Chambers will use his governance and facilitating skills to pull together a very talented team. He will seek the maximum regulatory delegation possible, trying always to promote policies in the very best interests of Waitemata Ward residents and business people. He may be new to it, but I predict he’ll be good at it. (JOHN ELLIOTT) PN


DECEMBER/JANUARY '10/ '11 Ponsonby News  

Christmas issue - covering December and January - news/views and all that is happening in and around Ponsonby