Waiheke is a prime example of a community with a lazy Board. Once upon a time your local board or community board were pro-active. They not only identified local problems but also sought solutions that worked. They were the eyes and ears of the community. It was what they got paid for.
However, for the last four years Waiheke has been led by its Chair Paul Walden whose avowed mission is to return Waiheke to the 1980s. This means not addressing problems, frittering ratepayers’ money away on bridle bridges to nowhere or paying favoured groups for their support, none of which fix the problems of a growing community with ageing infrastructure. As a result Council infrastructure is falling into disrepair which suits the lazy Walden very well.
Whilst it’s true that democracy delivers a Board that a community deserves, there remains a significant proportion who did not vote for this outcome. Whilst it is galling to pay your rates and have to do the job yourself, it is possible to get things done without them.
The solution is to become a Call Centre addict by ringing the Council Call Centre direct (3010101) and reporting a problem every time you see one. It could be that road gutters are blocked or potholes have appeared in the road or offensive graffiti is scrawled on a bus shelter or Council tracks are overgrown. Each problem, if left unattended, can grow into a much more serious one.
Let’s take the example of offensive graffiti scrawled on a bus shelter. Here’s what to do.
1. Call 3010101 and report the graffiti.
2. Make sure you get a job number. This is vital.
3. Make sure you can give the number of the bus shelter or an address closest to it. Without an address Council cannot identify the specific problem.
4. Make sure you tell the Call Centre the graffiti is 'offensive'. Council has a one hour turn around policy within which time they must act to remove the graffiti.
5. If the graffiti is not removed promptly ring back the Call Centre and report the non-activity by quoting the job number.
There are key words to use when reporting any problem to Council. ‘Offensive’ is one, others include ‘health hazard’, ‘road safety’, ‘extreme danger’. These should trigger immediate action. If they don’t then there are other methods of making them take action.
If the problem is one of extreme danger, for example a dark corner with overgrown vegetation on Council land that is blocking clear sight of oncoming traffic and Council has refused to cut it back, then lay a complaint with the police. Once the complaint has been laid, call back the Call Centre and tell them a complaint has been laid with the police. This should result in immediate action.
A small group of dedicated community guardians who are prepared to become ‘squeaky wheels’ is all it takes to let Council know your local board is not doing its job. The role of local boards is currently being reviewed by Council. If some are failing badly, and level of Call Centre activity is a good indicator, then the Governing Body might take action to remedy the situation.
Currently, there is a small group of ‘Waiheke Guardians’ who have got this message, regularly report Council related problems to the Call Centre and are making a difference. If you want to join them and hold your local board to account then call me on 3729936 or 0212865544 or send me a note by filling out the contact form on this blog. Or just follow the above methodology and become a squeaky wheel.
Footnote: I see some rubbish bins are back in the Little Oneroa car park area following my blog last week. See, it is possible to by-pass the Waiheke Board and get things done.