Firstly a reminder of the Purpose of Local Government according to the Local Government Act.
‘ to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses’.
The Act goes on to describe ‘good quality’ as:
‘efficient, effective and appropriate to present and anticipated future circumstances’
This Purpose provides the yardstick for measuring politicians’ performance.
The only infrastructure provided so far by this Local Board is the newly constructed bridle bridge on O’Brien’s Rd, near the entrance to Onetangi Sports Park. At a staggering cost of $175,000, it is a very expensive means of getting the occasional horse or pedestrian off the road, assuming a horse will use it and assuming there is any traffic around to necessitate doing so. Stacked up against other footpath priorities, it is hard to see how this one even got off the ground, aside from its importance to the Board Chairman and his own horses that is. Conclusion – neither efficient nor effective.
No further infrastructure projects initiated by this Board have been completed. The Board, in a fit of who knows what, handed back to Council $1.4 million of fully funded project money inherited from the first Local Board to provide for boat ramps, Onetangi Sports Park pavilion extensions, and the upgrade of the old library space.
They failed to progress the community swimming pool project already initiated by the first Board, instead heading off in a new direction and pursuing a school pool. They then failed to obtain the $5 million funding from the Governing Body needed for construction. Conspicuous by its absence was any foresight on running costs and public access or plans on how to fund ongoing maintenance.
Local public services
No new local public services have been provided. A whopping $500,000 has been given to favoured Trusts for reports, consultants, plans and education. There is no accountability or transparency for the public to know exactly how these grants have been spent and no measurable outcomes. In other words, a lot of hooey and not a lot of dooey.
Performance of regulatory function
Keeping on top of Council’s regulatory functions requires knowledge of what’s going on and why. This includes attendance at workshops, on Waiheke and in town; Local Board business meetings; making presentations to the Governing Body of Auckland Council; formulation of a Local Board plan and acquiring budgets/ funding for future local projects.
This Board has doubled the cost of its business meetings by holding them fortnightly instead of the usual monthly. It has been rare for all five members to attend meetings. One Board member, Becs Ballard, has attended only one of the fortnightly local board workshops in over two years. All Board members are expected to make monthly written reports on their portfolio areas. Only Shirin Brown has managed this. Despite the fact that the Chairman now has a personal secretary to do the majority of his work for him, his contribution has been conspicuous by its absence.
Shirin Brown is the only member to have voted against a decision of the Board. For her ‘treachery’, she was demoted from her job as Deputy Chair.
Board member John Meeuwsen has failed to honour his oath of office, earned a reputation for ‘anger management’ issues and spent his time and our money trying to establish a breakaway Council.
As Chairman, Paul Walden must shoulder the responsibility for losing Waiheke so much valuable funding. The first Waiheke Local Board pulled out all the stops and negotiated a package of millions of dollars in funds and projects to ensure Waiheke benefited from the new Supercity regime. After Great Barrier, Waiheke had the most funding per capita in the region. Within weeks of taking over, Walden had blown it.
Walden inherited fully funded capital expenditure projects worth millions, which he either cancelled or handed back to Council. He inherited an annual budget of over $600,000 capital expenditure (capex); over $400,000 operating expenditure (opex) and a $200,000 pa Local Board Transport Capital Fund. At the end of Year two he has failed to secure any new funding, had the capex reduced to $200,000 and opex to under $200,000. The $200,000 transport fund remains but has so far been squandered on vanity projects – the bridle bridge and associated bridle path. Any already identified transport issues seem to have been ditched.
There will be no fully funded projects for the next Board to inherit.
Scores (out of 5):
Ballard 0 for a non-event
Brown 2 for attendance and attempting to show some independence
Meeuwsen minus 1 for continually losing his cool and trying to de-amalgamate
Treadwell 0 for just going along with the crowd and getting completely lost in it
Walden 1 for – well, nothing really
Overall Performance: Fail
We should expect more from people who are being paid handsomely to represent the community and who have sworn an oath to do so in a fair and unbiased fashion.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. These two photographs sum up the achievements of the first and second Waiheke Local Boards.