More to mow with berm changes
Plans to cut a long-standing lawn-mowing service in the former Auckland City region have met strong criticism.
The council outlines a proposal to stop roadside berm mowing in its draft budget for 2013 to 2014.
St Heliers-Glendowie Residents Association chairman Keith Savory thinks the savings could be made elsewhere.
"It worries me that the grass verges are going to end up looking terrible from a tourism point of view."
Mr Savory mows the berm in front of his property but says there are a lot of elderly people in the eastern bays who are unable to do it themselves.
Mission Bay-Kohimarama Residents Association president Adriana Gunder says it will disadvantage people with limited mobility.
"The council insists that they own [the berms] so why should we cut the grass? Instead of spending money on big projects that no-one wants anyway, they should come back down to earth."
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan says flats, townhouses and retirement villages should not be adversely affected.
"Many complexes have gardening contractors already so they would need to include berm mowing in that contract," he says.
The estimated saving is $3 million. Remuera resident Warren Tui says he appreciates the council is trying to cut costs but says the saving amounts to "peanuts".
"I think people are generally happy to look after the grass berms. There's only the very odd person who doesn't.
"But I don't think you can make people do it. I think the council should just do the ones that aren't mown."
Ellerslie Residents Association chairman Bryan Johnson says the association has not yet discussed the proposal.
He welcomes the move as long as it results in a reduction in rates increases.
Newmarket Community Association treasurer Graham Brown questions how the move will benefit the city.
"Just by retracting the service doesn't mean those who don't do it will start.
"The most liveable city should also be the most presentable. The reality is anything that looks run-down attracts crime."
Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers says the proposal contains a "big blind spot".
He questions what will happen to berms outside the homes of people who are unwilling to mow them, or who are disabled or elderly.
"How is that to be provided for? There are also a lot of apartments in the city which don't have green spaces.
"People do it if they are willing.
"If the service is completely cut it'll turn into resentful compliance or it will turn neighbours against each other."
Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson says the proposal won't work for Orakei.
"Why should this ward lose any of its services? We are the highest residential ratepayers.
"You're not required to own a lawnmower. No-one asked residents if they would prefer to have berms or just concrete."
Councillor for Orakei Cameron Brewer agrees with the tightening up of berm mowing costs but says removing them completely would be a mistake.
"Those on the isthmus are paying huge rates. Now on top of user-pays rubbish being signalled they'll also lose the long-standing free berm mowing service.
"They're being asked to pay more for less. Residents need to make sure they have their say on this."
Residents will be able to have their say on the Draft Annual Plan 2013-2014 from January 24 to February 22, 2013.
The proposal is set to come into effect on July 1.
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East And Bays Courier