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Verging on ridiculous

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 09:14 23/12/2013
Allen McLaughlin
TEDIOUS AFFAIR: Onehunga resident Allen McLaughlin with a grass verge which Auckland Transport has now agreed to maintain.

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Allen McLaughlin's berm battle is a real doozy.

But the fight has been worth the effort because he's just received word that the verge in question will be maintained by Auckland Transport.

The Onehunga man went in to bat on behalf of an elderly neighbour who is 83, in poor health and not able to mow the 56 metres of berm outside her corner unit.

Mr McLaughlin says he is happy to step in to help on occasion but can't commit to it fulltime.

"It's a big job and takes an hour at least," he says.

He is among those saying it ought to be easier for people with genuine health woes to get help mowing their berms from council contractors.

Earlier this month Auckland Transport confirmed just eight out of 160 applications for an exemption from berm mowing for health reasons had been granted.

The organisation says it would prefer communities rallied to keep their neighbourhoods looking neat and tidy.

Mr McLaughlin says dealing with Auckland Transport to get his neighbour's berm sorted has been tedious.

He first wrote in October and included a medical certificate in the request.

Since then he has received several responses, including a rejection letter and an acceptance letter which both arrived in the mail on the same day.

The letter agreeing to mow the berm said it would be done twice a year, to keep the verge from becoming a fire hazard.

He says the experience has dented his confidence in the ability of the council controlled organisation.

"My issue is the sheer incompetence of Auckland Transport. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

"To suggest they will cut it twice a year is farcical."

Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan says the mix-up with the letters was human error.

"We apologise for that.

"We will certainly be mowing this berm when it needs that work done, the suggestion of twice a year is not correct, it will be mowed more often particularly during the growing season.

"The volume of requests concerning berms has increased significantly and we have a backlog of requests we are working through."

Mr McLaughlin is pleased with Auckland Transport's commitment to mow the berm.

"I'll believe it when they start doing it but I'm quite happy they have come to their senses and shown some common sense."

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