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Council slow on upkeep

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2014
EBC Council
HAZARD: A broken metal grate, leaving a hole in the footpath in Ellerslie town square is typical of the maintenance issues not being addressed by Auckland Council, Sally Eustace says.

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Litter, unwashed streets and uneven footpaths are an eyesore and a hazard.

Trying to get someone from council to sort them out is proving a headache, town centre managers say.

Ellerslie town centre manager Sally Eustace says general maintenance has gone downhill, particularly in the last few months.

There used to be an orderly who would notify council contractors of work required in the town centre. In the middle of last year he stopped visiting but Mrs Eustace received no notification of the change.

In July 2013, the maintenance of gardens and drinking fountains in town centres was transferred from Auckland Transport to Auckland Council's parks department, although a council spokesperson says this does not mean the level of service has decreased.

Mrs Eustace has been putting in requests for service herself but even routine maintenance like street cleaning doesn't appear to be happening on a regular basis.

"The footpaths are meant to be scrubbed on a weekly basis but they are filthy and there's lots of litter in the gardens," she says.

The public toilet next to the town square was closed for months. A sign went up in August last year saying the facility was closed.

"It had a council sign on it so I thought they were on to it," she says.

Eight months later, Mrs Eustace decided perhaps it had been forgotten and put in a request for service on March 3.

Within days contractors arrived, fixed a blocked pipe and the out of action sign was removed.

A leaky tap on the drinking fountain in the town square was reported on February 28 and again on March 6.

Potentially hazardous issues include several missing metal tree surrounds and loose paving stones.

Mrs Eustace says every time she phones she struggles to get past the council call centre to speak to someone who can help.

An Auckland Council spokeswoman says there have been no changes to the levels of service for public amenities such as gardens, toilets, footpaths and drinking fountains.

"Council staff recently met with Sally Eustace to address her concerns and see how we can work more closely together to ensure the town centre is well kept."

Onehunga business association manager Amanda Kinzett shares Mrs Eustace's concerns.

In the middle of last year the council contracts changed for Onehunga and so did the level of service, she says.

Suddenly contractors would clean only some of the main street and they stopped cleaning car parks and alleyways, she says.

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"We've worked through it but it's taken us months. It's still not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but at least now we've got some things happening."

- East And Bays Courier

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