Project Little Oneroa is one of the many groups hidden under the Waiheke Resources Trust (WRT) umbrella, which applies for, and gets, multiple ratepayer funds for its activities. When the Trust holds out its hand, the Board crosses it with silver. This might have something to do with the Trust’s control by NGO (Non-Government Organisation) long-time trougher John Stansfield, partner of Green List (read, unelected) MP and self-professed bag lady Denise Roche.
The latest $24,000 is to be added to the $14,000 already allocated to this concocted project. The first tranche was for a plan to fix the purported problem of the alleged Little Oneroa stream pollution (see ‘dangerous Green claims threaten Waiheke tourism’ blog). It might be expected therefore that the next $24,000 was for some action to clean up the stream that worries them so much. Not a bit of it. All the $24,000 is going to produce is yet another plan by this bunch of self-appointed ‘experts’ (with not a qualification in sight) and make some ‘suggestions’ to Auckland Council. Suggestions will include putting up signs, contacting owners in the area, monitoring water quality, consultation, options and yet more workshops. Not rocket science and most of which has been done in the past by Council professionals, with very encouraging results. The implementation i.e. the real action will be left to Council, as will the extra dollars to do any work. It seems the WRT specialises in non-productive action but is expert at picking up what would otherwise be Council contracts awarded to suitably qualified professionals and trades-people, who don’t rely on volunteers but actually pay their workers.
I love the sentence from an obviously frustrated Auckland Council officer in their report accompanying the agenda item, which points out that regional funding is already available to monitor water quality. In other words $40,000 has been allocated to the coffers of the Waiheke Resources Trust for work done by Auckland Council throughout the region. No wonder the community calls this organisation the ‘Waste-of-Resources Trust’.
This is the same organisation that the Local Board is hell-bent on giving the old Oneroa Bowling Club building on Alison Park to. The ‘Waste of Resources’ Trust will stand up to its name when given a perfectly sound public building on public land to conduct their commercial activities from. This office space will cost them nothing and they’ll then have the potential to charge the public for its use. Talk about doing your ratepayers down.
And talking of wasting our money, the other big recipient of the Board’s largesse, Waiheke Adult Literacy (WAL), is to receive yet another $50,000 to add to the $30,000 it has already received to ‘manage’ the old library space. Another nice Christmas bonus from the ratepayers’ stocking. The $50,000 will be redirected from money previously allocated for work on the Onetangi Sports Park pavilion, which you may have noticed has ground to a halt through – well, lack of funding. WAL is the ‘gatekeeper’ organisation that controls what was long intended to be space for Arts related groups (eg. Community Art Gallery, Theatre, Cinema and Musical Museum) to extend their activities. Instead WAL is hogging the space for its own use, pays no rent, and returns no money to ratepayers in the form of rent, leases or fees. The $50k is for unspecified ‘improvements’, on top of the $150,000 this space cost ratepayers to set up just over a year ago. The new funding comes with less than a year to go to the next local body elections.
Meanwhile Council’s Parks department is continuing its ongoing programme of cost cutting by reclassifying the areas it attempts to look after. Half the Council ‘garden’ will be reclassified as ‘bush’. This means they no longer need to be pruned, weeded or mulched. This is yet another backward step for an Island’s public spaces that already suffer from lack of basic gardening expertise and have steadily gone backwards under the current regime.
But first there is the huge cost of ‘foresting’ these areas. 3,200 trees have been planted on Onetangi Sports Park (obliterating part of the mountain bike track). The tree planting contract went to, wait for it, the Waiheke Resources Trust, who used volunteers to do the planting and still pocketed the fees. What’s left of the Parks budget is being spent, not on maintaining tracks or maintaining facilities for the public, but on hugely expensive regional signage. This fulfils the long held dream of the Waiheke’s Parks Advisor to ride roughshod over the desire of the local community to retain its unique character and make Waiheke look like the rest of Auckland.
Ratepayers are getting increasingly frustrated at paying higher rates for fewer services with their money channelled in groups with close ties to political parties. Once ratepayer funds find their way into Trusts there is no further transparency or accountability. Waiheke Local Board is only mirroring what Mayor Len Brown is doing Using Brown as a role model for how to run a Council is like playing second fiddle to Nero’s musicianship as Rome burns
Adult group paid to manage Waiheke Youth
Waiheke Greens strip community of assets
Dangerous Green claims threaten Waiheke tourism
30k disappears into old library space black hole
Greens tighten grip on Waiheke ratepayer funds