Anyone claiming “council’s debt and spending is out of control” or that council is “virtually broke” (and there are plenty of candidates who really should know better) needs to talk to Cr Desley Simpson, stalwart of the National party who has led the Finance & Performance Committee this term with her Deputy Shane Henderson. She has worked closely with the Mayor to oversee the prudent and responsible management of the budget. Savings targets have been exceeded, debt is well below agreed levels and most importantly throughout the financial challenges of the pandemic which knocked a $900m hole in Council’s budget, the credit ratings with S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services of AA and Aa2 respectively have been retained.
The big numbers involved in serving 1.7 million Aucklanders are not something to be scared of as council invests in climate action and the much-needed infrastructure to meet Auckland’s growing population. Just this term the capital investment programmes of more than $6 billion has delivered the likes of the Quay Street upgrade, the Te Wānanga new coastal space on the waterfront, Te Komititanga public square on Queen Street, and Te Ngau o Horotiu, the new downtown ferry terminal.
The old Auckland City Council kept rates artificially low and failed to make long term investments in infrastructure by pushing out projects like water separation. This is why we have poo in the harbour. The water quality programme is now funded and making significant progress.
Debt is currently 16% of council’s assets and well below pre-covid levels of 270% debt to revenue ratio. It is not equitable or logical to pay down debt further by cutting services and assets on a balance sheet as stable as Auckland Council’s. As David Shand, a member of the Royal Commission that recommended setting up the Supercity, says “candidates who complain about Auckland’s debt and promise to reduce it are in my view, financially illiterate. Debt is a sound way of financing long-term assets and Auckland’s debt is within prudential limits.”*
A lot of false claims are made about Auckland Council’s rates too. We have never had the highest average general percentage increase of any council in NZ. Currently Auckland is 4th of the metropolitan cities (after Tauranga, Wellington and Dunedin). Rates have been kept below inflation in Annual Budget 22/23 at the same time significant savings have been achieved and costs have risen as a result of covid. Since amalgamation council has made savings and efficiencies of $2.4 billion. This term alone, operational savings and efficiency achievements total in excess of $260 million with group procurement savings of just under $150 million.
Auckland Council’s annual report 21/22 released on 30 September confirms we’ve been able to deliver $2.28 billion worth of capital investment, and exceed an ambitious target of $90 million in operational savings by $2.7million. This totals the annual savings and efficiencies at $92.7 million, which when added to the savings figures from the past two years, adds up to delivering a final total of savings and efficiencies well in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars this term.
We are now on the countdown to Election Day on 8 October. Check your letter box if you haven’t seen your purple envelope yet or call the Election Office on 0800 922 822 if it didn’t arrive. Voting papers can be dropped in Vote Boxes at transport hubs, Countdown supermarkets and libraries. (check the map here)
There is still time to make an informed decision on the candidates who are upfront about what they stand for and straight with the facts.
Pippa Coom: Your Councillor for Waitematā and Gulf Ward
After almost nine years on the Waitematā Local Board, currently serving as Chair, I am delighted to be City Vision’s candidate for councillor for the Waitematā and Gulf ward.
It has been a privilege to serve the communities of Waitematā and to lead a local board that has built a reputation for being brave, adventurous and effective. Among its achievements have been the transformation of the Ellen Melville Centre into a vibrant community hub , the development of the Weona-Westmere coastal walk and other new pathways, and improved playgrounds. Your board has also been instrumental in getting major projects off the ground, including the Franklin Road upgrade, a planned new civic space on Ponsonby Road, new sports grounds at Seddon Fields, new changing rooms in Grey Lynn park and the upgrade of Teed St in Newmarket. We also helped secure a $5 million Council contribution to the City Mission’s HomeGround housing and social services project.
My focus on the local board has been transport. I’ve led the local board in being the first to adopt “Vision Zero” and one of the first to put in place a Greenways Plan. Our investment in placemaking and safe, welcoming streets is paying off for businesses and for the health of the community.
What can you expect from me as a councillor? I will build on extensive experience in governance, a network of community relationships, and an understanding of the issues that matter to Aucklanders. My leadership style is inclusive and respectful, I seek consensus rather than division, and I value teamwork and open communication. I will be a councillor who is available and accessible, and I will be there in person for community events, big and small.
Representing the people of Waitemata and the Gulf is a seven days a week commitment, and I am 100% up for it.
My path into local government started early on with community activism, volunteering and community-building. I was born and raised in England where my politics were shaped from a young age by the threat of nuclear war, the toxicity of apartheid and the rise of Thatcherism.
My family immigrated to New Zealand just after I turned 14. I immediately felt at home living in Ponsonby and attending Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, where my interests in service and activism were encouraged. At Otago University, where I completed a law degree (hons) in 1991, I volunteered at the community law centre, taught English as a second language, and was secretary of the Otago Law Students Association.
My community activism continued during a 15 year legal career.
During this time my dad was killed in a car crash. He was 49. Incidentally, my partner Paul and I have lived since 2006 in the Grey Lynn house dad bought over 30 years ago. Many years later, and now with a role on the Waitematā Local Board advocating for road safety, I’ve come to think of dad’s death not just as a family tragedy but also as an example of why the “safe systems” approach to creating a forgiving roading network is so necessary.
An e-bike is my main form of transport but I do own a working 1934 Austin 7 inherited from my dad and am a member of the Vintage Austin Register of NZ.
In 2009, I became a full-time volunteer in the community involved with cycling advocacy, community development and sustainability. I’ve been a trustee of the Kelmarna Organic City Farm, Grey Lynn 2030 and Connected Media, the coordinator of Frocks on Bikes, membership secretary of Cycle Action Auckland (now Bike Auckland) and organiser of climate action events.
I was named Sustainability Champion at the 2011 Sustainable Business Network awards for my cycling advocacy and involvement with the Grey Lynn Farmers Market, which I served for five years as chair of the management committee.
In 2010 I was elected to the Waitematā Local Board in the first Super City election. In 2013 and 2016 I was the highest polling candidate.
What I stand for
I’m a progressive aligned with City Vision, a coalition of Labour, the Greens and community independents like myself, but my primary allegiance is to the community. I value City Vision’s shared commitment to social justice, outstanding public transport, environmental restoration, ownership of public assets, and a real say for local communities.
Here’s what I stand for:
Transport choices: Healthy, safe, connected and accessible streets that encourage kids to walk, scoot and bike to school; an efficient, reliable public transport system with affordable, integrated fares covering all parts of Auckland including the Gulf Islands.
Climate Action: A just transition to a low-emissions and climate-ready city; every decision of Auckland Council must contribute to fighting the climate and ecological crisis.
Environmental sustainability: Cleaning up our waterways and harbours; protecting the qualities that make the Gulf Islands and Hauraki Gulf special; effective and sustainable recycling and composting services.
Strong local boards and local decision making. I will meet regularly with the three local board chairs, attend local board meetings and effectively advocate for local issues.
A city with a heart: Continuing with the revitalisation of downtown with a Quay Street boulevard, new public spaces and people-friendly streets. Slower speeds and the Access for Everyone project will be good for business and make the city centre more liveable for the growing residential population
Housing: Ending homelessness through support for initiatives such as Housing First. Quality, affordable housing developments and effective use of brownfield sites.
Good governance:Holding the Council Controlled Organisations such as Auckland Transport to account and ensuring value for money, council efficiencies and getting the basics right. As local board chair I have met community priorities within budget through careful financial management
There is much more to do building safe, vibrant, inclusive, accessible and resilient communities. I am passionate and completely committed to serving on the governing body, fulfilling the aspirations of all Aucklanders and representing Waitematā and Gulf ward.
The Local Elections 2016 are underway. I’m seeking to serve for another term on the Waitematā Local Board (my election profile is available here). I’m standing as a candidate with the progressive City Vision team – a coalition of Labour, Greens and community independents like me.
Here’s why it is time to vote for your progressive candidates in the Local Elections 2016 on now
Over the last 6 years of Auckland Council your progressive representatives, with clear principles and values have achieved results and delivered where it matters. We need your vote to ensure that Auckland’s progress is not stopped in its tracks at the expense of community, arts & culture, parks, heritage and the environment. We need a progressive Council and Local Boards that can work with Phil Goff to ensure we keep out assets, our communities have a strong voice, we invest in Auckland and we can continue working to deliver real transport choice and solutions.
Last local body election, only 34% of Aucklanders mailed a vote but we all live with the consequences. Your vote makes a difference.
Your City Vision and Roskill Community Voice candidates:
Cr Mike Lee, City Vision endorsed for the Waitematā and Gulf ward
Please vote no later than 5 October in the local government elections for progressive candidates across the Auckland region. Voting ballots must be posted by 5 October to arrive in time for election day on 8 October.
For the first time you can also deliver your voting documents to the ballot box in your local library right up until midday on election day.
“The 2013 Auckland Council elections have seen a strong performance from City Vision and progressive teams across the Auckland isthmus”, says Gwen Shaw, Campaign Co-ordinator for City Vision.
“On the Auckland Isthmus City Vision achieved the following results:
In the Waitemata & Gulf Islands Ward incumbent City Vision-endorsed Councillor Mike Lee was returned with a strong majority.
In the Albert-Eden-Roskill Ward incumbent City Vision Councillor Cathy Casey was comfortably returned.
On the Waitemata Local Board, City Vision retained five out of seven positions.
On the Albert-Eden Local Board, City Vision retained five out of eight positions.
On the Puketapapa Local Board, Roskill Community Voice increased representation to win four out of six positions.
“When taken together with the Whau Local Board result (five Labour members elected on a Board of seven) and Maungakiekie-Tamaki (four Labour members elected on a Board of seven), this means that all Local Boards on the Auckland isthmus, with the exception of Orakei, are controlled by progressive groupings. This is a major achievement and a huge change from the old Auckland City days of C&R domination.
“Regretfully, some high quality City Vision candidates were not successful this election. We also note with sadness the loss of Richard Northey as Maungakiekie-Tamaki Ward Councillor. City Vision has worked extensively with Richard over the years and we know him to be a person of great integrity and knowledge who has served his community faithfully. His contribution on Council will be greatly missed.
“With strong progressive representation across the Auckland Isthmus we will be working hard to engage our local communities over the coming term. We campaigned on public ownership of Auckland’s assets, empowering local communities, treating people and our environment with respect, and building a congestion free network. We thank Aucklanders for their support this election and will work hard to advance the values and policies we were elected upon”, says Gwen Shaw.
City Vision is reminding people that Wednesday 9 October is the final day for posting votes in the Auckland Council elections. After the post has been cleared on Wednesday, people will need to head to their local library to cast their votes.
“Wednesday 9 October is the final day that votes can be put in the mail, with certainty that they will be received on time. After that, people need to head to their local library to vote. It is an innovation for libraries to be able to receive votes in the days leading up to election day and City Vision welcomes it. Any step that makes voting easier is to be applauded”, says Pippa Coom, City Vision candidate for Waitemata Local Board.
People voting at the library still need to complete the voting paper that has been mailed to their home address. Complete the voting paper, seal it in the return envelope, and then deposit it in the ballot box at your library. People can vote at their local library up until 12noon on Saturday 12 October. Auckland Council Service Centres, including the Civic Building on Grey St (ballot box) and at 45 Graham St (counter), will also be open on Thursday and Friday to collect completed voting papers.
“As of Tuesday 8 October just 22% of Aucklanders have had their say by voting. City Vision urges all other Aucklanders to participate in our democratic process by mailing their vote this Wednesday, or by taking their vote to the library on Thursday or Friday, or on Saturday morning”, says Pippa Coom.