Yet again a meeting of the Waiheke Local board has been cancelled for “lack of business”, according the Waiheke Local Board Facebook Page. They're certainly keeping us on our toes: irregular meetings, four different locations for the last four meetings. Who would know where to go next or when? It's just one of the novel ways this Board has found of keeping the public in the dark.
How times change. The former Board had agendas 500 pages long, lasted 5 hours on average, were regular as clockwork, and rarely had members absent. It was standing room only in the public gallery and interest in the work of the Board within the community was at an all time high.
But then we got through a powerful lot of work on behalf of the community. You need only view the 'Background' page on this blog to see a few of the many projects undertaken or planned and funded during our three years. At the same time we attended to the everyday business of establishing the new Auckland Council structure and were busy ensuring local boards had a voice in the wider Auckland context.
The only projects currently happening, apart from an eye-watering twenty thousand dollars-worth (part of an even more tear-jerking EIGHTY thousand dollars-worth) of fruit trees on the berms of a few Blackpool residents (more of which later), are those funded by the former Board. These include the perimeter track around the Waiheke Golf Club, the wetland restoration projects, the Round Waiheke Walkway and the million dollar upgrade to the Council Service Centre in Ostend.
It takes real vision to bring projects like the library or Round Waiheke Walkway to fruition. The Round Waiheke Walkway has been part of Faye Storer’s and successive community and local board’s long-term vision for over twenty years and should always be a work in progress. The work is never done. The Perimeter Track around the golf course, soon to be finished, being just one piece of the walkway jigsaw. Will its opening, like that of the library, be hijacked by this shameless Board? You bet!
But it’s not surprising there is a ‘lack of business’ after you’ve cancelled as many former Board projects as you can and not put any of your own in their place. Nearly a year in office and what have they achieved? The answer is the sum total of sweet FA at a time when rates have escalated as never before. Not even the much heralded $25k ‘Swimming Pool Feasibility Study’, due out in April, has seen the light of day. Only the previously alluded to fruit tree planting is happening.
The $20k for planting fruit trees, on an island awash with fruit, was gifted to a community group nobody has ever heard of, at the very first meeting of the new local board last December. It was gifted without being asked for, without the mandatory Council officer’s report, without any accountability whatsoever. Who exactly are the ‘Blackpool Residents Association’ who’ve been so favoured by the Board? A member of the public has been demanding answers to this question and not receiving them on the Waiheke Local Board Facebook Page for some weeks now. This page has as it’s sub-heading the laughable statement 'STAY INFORMED'. If you want to know how this Board goes about its lack of business, and you want a laugh, have a look at the exchange on the aforementioned page. It would be hilarious except for the waste of money involved.
A further question the resident might ask is 'who funded the leaflet drop and drinks night at Blackpool School' advertising the planting?
All I know is this. A multitude of fruit tree saplings have been sprouting all along Rata St in Blackpool. There’s a veritable orchard on the berm outside the rented house of the Watkins family alongside Blackpool School. I saw Millie Watkins delivering leaflets along Rata Street a few weeks ago. Millie Watkins is a constant letter writer to the Gulf (Green Party) News, publisher of the Weekender who helpfully promoted this project in an article at the end of July. Watkins is a great supporter of the current Board. Board Member Treadwell is a friend of Watkins and is herself a resident of Rata St.
Anyone else think there's something rotten in the state of Blackpool?