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NORTH SHORE'S MONTHLY MAGAZINE

www.channelmag.co.nz

Social

on TheShore

Interview:

tJoAleh
• .r;~--.;i

our golden girl

GEORGE WOOD new Auckland

isa North

Shore ward councillor three-term

on the

Council.

The former

mayor of

12 months to
Mayor Len Brown has made it known that he will be contesting the next election but the sixty four dollar question is: Who will contest the election from the centre-right?
Len Brown came in, as the mayor, on a platform of producing some multimillion dollar projects in rapid time. This included the 52.86 billion Central City Rail link, rail to Auckland Airport and other big ticket projects. As a former mayor of North ShOre City for nine years my experience Is extensive in leading the direction of a city. I certainly would have taken a different path to Mayor Brown over these first three years that doesn't include skyrocketing rates. Bringing debt under control should have been high priority whilst, at the same time, ensuring that levels of service enjoyed under the previous councils remained a high priority. I'm disappointed in the mire that the city seems to be getting ourselves into with uncertainty as to the future. The mayor pushes on with his projects but more and more people are voicing disapproval and saying enough is enough. Ratepayers have now received their first rate cemanos under the new capital rating system along with their pay-for-volume-used water bills. The more people analysis their rates and water bills the louder the voice of displeasure grows. Mayor Brown. his mayoral office staff and supporters on council are now desperately trying to reduce next year's rates but may have left their run too late. The fact is the suburbs are being targeted whilst the big pet projects stay intact which is causing a strong reaction. The mayor finds the average proposed rates increase is 5_2%, a figure that has gone above the magic percentage the mayor previously determined of 4.9%. Far too much has been stacked in the budgets for the Auckland CBO and waterfront. Your local boards are now being asked to cut back to pay for this big spend-up downtown. With Auckland Council overall debt set to raise to beyond S12 billion by 2020

North Shore City lives in

Forresf Hill

with wife Myra.

2013 Auckland Council Elections
many Aucklanders are worried about the legacy left for future generations. This level of debt means that more and more of the rates paid will go on paying interest costs and retiring the borrowings. Many people wondered how tnese huge rail projects would be accomplished and I was certainly one of those doubters. These projects clearly showed that Mayor Brown has an over the horizon vision for Auckland but this futuristic planning also has shown that crippling rate increases will be the major downside. Huge rate increases will bring nothing but a nightmare for hard pressed ratepayers. There is more than one approach that Auckland Council can take to handle the local economy. Putting all our efforts into a few large transport projects and development of downtown Auckland seems to be the number one priority. To the contrary, it's my view that creating more jobs in the outlying suburbs and fairer rates should take a higher priority. Right now we have huge numbers of people out of work - south Auckland is a good example with over 30% of young Maori and Pacific Island adults under 24 years out of work. Getting people into meaningful work that provides a weekly pay packet is so important right now. Making things easier for business to develop and expand and create jobs should be our number one priority, especially on the North Shore. I had hoped that as a council, more time and money would have gone into opening up more land for business development. Auckland Council plays a major role In ensuring that the land use zonlngs are in place and development is not impeded by "red tape." During this term my focus has been very much a regional outlook. I have crisscrossed the region increasingly testing the water in each of the unique 190 villages that make up the new Auckland. My experience as a mayor has given me the ability to see problems through a different lens and ask the hard questions. In the main this "getting involved" from a regional perspective has been well received. So where to from here? It was very clear right from the start of this term that I was not part of Mayor Brown's "inner circle." Notwithstanding my relegation to the second tier of council I believe my contribution has been very worthwhile. People on the North Shore ask whether I will achieve more of a leading role in the next term of council. I certainly hope that this will be the case, for ratepayers' sake. Email: Gearge.Waod@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz •

LEAl

ING UNLlMfTEO:C-HI