Tough travel questions
Criticism of council spending on transport projects was fierce at a meeting of Tamaki Dr users on Wednesday evening.
The annual Tamaki Drive Protection Society general meeting saw MP for Tamaki Simon O'Connor and Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer address a room full of residents keen to hear their views.
Mr O'Connor threw out an open question: "Is it worth going into debt to fund transport projects such as the redevelopment of Tamaki Dr or the City Rail Loop?"
It became clear that many of those present did not think so.
The government contributes about a billion dollars a year to transport in Auckland, or roughly 40 per cent of the entire government transport expenditure .
New Zealand Transport Authority plans to spend $890 million on public transport over the next three years.
"This amounts to the biggest investment in transport since the motorways were put in, in the 1960s and 70s."
Mission Bay resident Stephen Moore criticised work by Auckland Transport on Tamaki Dr.
"The average ratepayer like me is not prepared to keep spending 50 per cent extra on rates so do-gooders can spend money willy-nilly."
He would like to see tighter controls on council spending and asked whether the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill 2012 is going ahead.
Mr O'Connor says the government is committed to the bill which would limit the council's role to core services such as water, sewerage and roads.
The discussion shifted to rail projects when St Heliers-Glendowie Residents Association member Guy King called the proposed inner west interchange section of the City Rail Link "a huge waste of money".
Mr O'Connor also questioned whether it is prudent to go ahead with the rail link at this stage.
"For every dollar invested in the City Rail Link, we get 40c back."
But the government is supportive of protecting the route because there could come a time when it is viable, he says.
Mr Brewer criticised the fact the mayor has made no cuts to the big capital expenditure, which is driving the city's debt.
"Borrowing has gone up another billion dollars in the last 12 months, which is $3 million a day.
"At this stage we are going to outperform ourselves on debt projection.
"Let's defer some project spending and keep rates increases down."
A resident who protested against the mayor's goal to make Auckland the most liveable city was met with strong support.
"All I see in that is extreme expenditure."
Mr Brewer agreed: "It's just a licence to print money."
Opposition to the number of car parking buildings in the city came from Parnell Community Committee member John Binsley.
"In London even millionaires go to work by tube or bus because there's nowhere to leave cars.
"The problem with Auckland is it's continuing to cater for more people to drive into the central city by creating more parking buildings," he said.
"Car parking spaces in multi-storey buildings are occupying spaces where there should be flats for people to live in."
While Mr O'Connor agrees in principle, he points out Auckland does not have a tube system like London.
"I would say we want to move towards more public transport but we've got to be careful to get the balance right."
Mr Brewer says the key to liveability is affordability. "What the mayor is doing is making Auckland less and less liveable."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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