The Local Board has set up a special Waiheke Social Housing Steering Committee comprising Paul Walden and Shirin Brown and unnamed, so-called ‘experienced’ local community housing facilitators. Their ‘experience’ is not expanded upon. Walden and Brown cannot grant the money to themselves so they have given it to WICOSS ‘as an umbrella group’.
So, who and what is WICOSS? Well, one thing it isn’t is a group of reputable professionals in the field of ‘community and pensioner housing’ or any other consultancy field.
WICOSS is, in fact, a loose grouping of volunteer representatives from a mishmash of local community groups. Their own website describes them as follows: ‘WICOSS is a collective voice for Waiheke Island community groups and serves as an umbrella organisation for small groups to receive funds’. They meet relatively regularly for a catch-up and a cup of tea, with representatives coming and going over the months and years (as members of voluntary groups generally do). All that is very nice but a reasonable person might ask themselves what expertise anyone in WICOSS has to prepare any sort of business case for anything or even act as an umbrella group in this case. Any reasonable ratepayer should be doubly concerned when they think about what is happening to their rates money. My sense is that WICOSS is being used and there’s the promise to this group of more of our money to follow.
The Board agenda claims that ‘experienced local community housing facilitators have formed a steering committee and have offered to take a leadership role’ and need the $20,000 ‘to appoint a dedicated project manager to focus on delivering a high-level business case’ with follow up actions by March 2016. So now we need some names. Who are these self proclaimed experienced local community housing facilitators?
The provision of social housing is the role of the Ministry of Social Development. On Waiheke the now wrongly-named ‘pensioner’ village (because, in this politically correct world, to restrict the village to needy pensioners is discriminatory!) on Belgium Street is controlled by the Ministry of Housing. It is not a function of the Waiheke Local Board or Auckland Council and publicly owned Council land on Waiheke should not be purloined for housing a few individuals. An increasing number of ratepayers have trouble paying their own rates and household expenses without supporting others - as needy as they might be.
Note the money granted by the Board goes to nothing tangible. It is for a report to do nothing more than ‘explore’ something. So this $20,000 can be added to the numerous other $20,000’s and other large amounts that this Local Board has granted to nameless consultants for ill-defined reports and explorations. In reality this grant is nothing more than yet another mechanism for Walden and his so-called ‘Essentially Waiheke’ political team to pay its supporters for their services – past and present. In this way this Waiheke Local Board has frittered away all its discretionary funding.
The vast majority of the local community has seen no tangible benefit from having a local board for the last three years. No new infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of residents and tourists; no more parking spaces at Matiatia; not even the promised community swimming pool. Nothing, except the eyesore bridle bridge - ‘Walden’s Wank’ on O’Brien Rd. All of which poses the question, do we need a Waiheke Local Board at all?
Waiheke Local Board channels yet more funding to favoured groups
Item 23 Consideration of Extraordinary Items 23.1 Extraordinary Business - Community and Pensioner Housing Business Case Resolution number WHK/2015/195 MOVED by Chairperson PA Walden, seconded by Member JP Meeuwsen: That the Waiheke Local Board; a) approves a grant of $20,000 LDI budget to the Waiheke Social Housing steering committee (with WICOSS as the umbrella group) to prepare a business case exploring the viability of Council land for the provision of community and pensioner housing on Waiheke. b) delegates final approval of the scope and deliverables for the project to board members Walden and Brown. c) appoints board members Walden and Brown to act as local board spokespersons on the Waiheke Social Housing steering committee.