Rubbish is accumulating uncollected in holiday spots such as Little Oneroa Beach where the local board has removed rather than added to the number of rubbish bins available. Council toilets there are all but insanitary because they are not cleaned regularly enough to cope with the increased demand, and the hundreds of thousands handed to the Waiheke Resources Trust for the Little Oneroa Stream Clean Up Project has yet to produce a single result.
The huge double decker buses are also causing problems along the island’s narrow road corridor with reports of buses toppling into gutters or side swiping cars. Often the bus drivers are unsure of their routes. I saw one trying to turn around the roundabout at the top of Oneroa into Oue St, a street already narrowed to one way by parking on both sides. I can understand the logic of needing as much capacity as possible to cope with the queues at the popular vineyards and when the island is inundated with an additional 50000 visitors for Sculpture on the Gulf, but the additional weight of these buses on the already fragile road surface will be taking its toll. I wonder if the vehicles are not in fact over the weight limit for our roads.
It is little wonder that buses, and visitors, don’t know where they are going because the local board has allowed ATEED to remove any visitor information services in Oneroa. Consequently, every shop, the police station, banks and real estate office in Oneroa must waste hours every week answering questions from passers by about how to get to particular destinations. Visitors feel abandoned. Waiheke is once again over promising and under performing.
In many ways this outcome is not surprising. The Board is led by Walden who has made no secret of the fact that he doesn’t want visitors on the island and their needs are not a priority. What is a priority are more plans, as we shall see.
Parking everywhere is at a premium. There are simply not enough car parks to meet demand anywhere on the island. What solutions does your local board propose? At Matiatia it will take car parks away from general demand and give them to mobility sticker holders, but at a price. They must now pay for the privilege at the current rate. The 30 minute car parks will remain but will no longer be free. What is not proposed anywhere is additional car parking capacity. What is proposed is, you guessed it, more shared paths so cyclists can mow down hapless pedestrians on footpaths.
Meanwhile, what precious money the Board has it is wasting on more ‘plans’. Another $65000 slipped through its fingers at the December meeting as it handed over the money to Auckland Transport so it could ‘investigate’ the traffic in Belgium Street and Putiki Road. The usual complainers and moaners will have been in their ears about having to wait as long as five minutes to get out of the Countdown car park on the only time of the week when Belgium Street is very busy – during the Saturday market at Ostend Domain. There is no problem on Belgium Street. There will be one if Walden gets his way and installs a cycle only path.
Putiki Road is another matter. The narrow one way road is unfit to handle the amount of traffic it now gets as more commercial businesses open. Before handing a large sum over to AT the Board should first have called for an officers’ report for a preliminary assessment. No such report was on the local board agenda. Where was the break down of costs from Auckland Transport to justify such a large amount for a ‘report’? Auckland Transport is well known for inflating its figures and for its corrupt practices. A vigilant Board should not be accepting any amounts plucked out of thin air without a detailed report on what it is getting for its money.
As a last minute Christmas present the Board decided to give another $50,000 to add to the hundreds of thousands already handed over to that bottomless pit that is the Waiheke Boat Club, for its hard stand on Council reserve on the Causeway. This time it wanted funds for a pathway. There was no accompanying report for consideration by board members before the meeting. Apparently the money was needed ‘urgently’ so it was handed over under an extraordinary item added to the agenda at the last minute. That has become the norm if you’re one of Walden’s favoured groups (and the Boat Club is). No need to bother with all the rigmarole of going through funding rounds for grants like lesser groups. You just whisper your needs in Walden’s ear and it is done while the sheep tag along for the ride.
The new Board members are showing their lack of wisdom and knowledge. Following the failed leadership of the uneducated Walden who has learned nothing after four years on the Board, except perhaps how to waste public money, is a recipe for yet more waste of precious resources. Some Board members were unhappy with this slapdash approach. If so, they should have voted against the motion. Blindly following Walden will win them no kudos from their supporters who put them there as a check on his profligate waste of the last three years.
Given the big infrastructure problems now arising on the island it is little wonder there is a general air of discontent. Rubbish piling up in the streets is reminiscent of the UK's Winter of Discontent in 1979. Already the new board is under performing. On present form I can only see it getting worse.