Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

Regional Trades Off Local In Rodney

The Mayor witnessed first hand the problem with his council budget when he attended the Rodney Local Board meeting this week. We were both there, and a potential Walkworth swimming pool highlighted the issue.

A pool in Walkworth has been talked about for years. A gap has been identified in the area and it was popularly supported in the Rodney Local Board Plan last year. At the meeting the board discussed a feasibility study they had made up to $30,000 available for. The study essentially concluded that despite the gap, regional priorities meant it was unlikely to attract central council funding. The Mayor was full of the same ideas as in the report about approaching sponsors, partnering with schools etc. But he missed the point.

If the local board establishes this as a key local priority, it should be measured against other regional/local priorities in Rodney and then advanced (or not) on that basis. This kind of budget prioritising doesn’t exist in his council.

Now Rodney has 15 key initiatives in the Parks and Sports Facilities section of their Local Board Plan. So, it’s their job to prioritise where the pool fits in among these. However the council report didn’t help much. Pools are expensive and it’s reasonable that community funding partners are looked for to assist with this. But all the report did was list these. There’s very limited capability within council to actually advance and develop options like this.

The board was also told that there was no staff resource available to progress this further.

The Mayor listened on, but he’s heard it all before.

We need to better balance local priorities with regional ones, and introduce better capability within council – probably within the new Council Controlled Organisation Panuku Development Auckland – to actually deliver local board priorities like this.

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