Board move challenged

BATTLE-READY: Auckland Council needs to be held accountable for acting illegally,   Bayswater man Colin Flavell says.
BATTLE-READY: Auckland Council needs to be held accountable for acting illegally, Bayswater man Colin Flavell says.

Plans to build a national yachting centre on Takapuna's beachfront reserve have hit another hurdle with an objector taking Auckland Council to court.

Bayswater man Colin Flavell says Auckland Council illegally handed over final decision making rights regarding the contentious National Ocean Watersports Centre to the Devonport Takapuna Local Board.

Mr Flavell, who has a website detailing his past battles with the former North Shore City Council and new Auckland Council, says the impact of the decision to build the watersports centre will extend far beyond Takapuna Beach.

Therefore it should be handled by the council, not the local board, he says.

"This isn't just a little domestic thing in our area.

"When I counted there were over 500 submissions from outside of Takapuna and Devonport, it's a much wider issue."

Mr Flavell is hoping that through his actions the council will be forced to "scratch everything" and embark on a new submissions process using an independent hearings panel.

The hearings panel assigned to make recommendations on the future use of the reserve land as part of the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan is made up of one independent commissioner, Greg Hill, and five local board members.

The Devonport Takapuna Local Board is to receive any recommendations and make the final decisions. But Mr Flavell believes this puts the local board in a compromising position.

"The board is required to advocate for the local community," he says. "Therefore they should have found out what the people wanted and made a submission on behalf of the community, not be the ones making the decisions."

The council's proposal to reallocate land that has been home to the iconic Takapuna Beach Holiday Park for more than 80 years to Yachting New Zealand for offices, meeting rooms and storage has already had its fair share of controversy.

Residents continue to complain of a lack of transparency from the Auckland Council regarding the genesis of the plan.

The North Shore Times revealed last year that council officers made plans to "convince" the local board to include only two options in their draft management plan for the area.

Both sited the yachting centre on reserve land and relied on the closure of the popular holiday park.

Analysis by the Times of the council's submission report also showed a significant number of submissions specifically calling for the retention of the holiday park were not counted.

Council graphs showed about a 50-50 split of support and opposition to the National Ocean Watersports Centre. However, half of the submissions in support of the yachting centre were on a generic form which had been provided by Yachting New Zealand. These were each individually counted whereas a petition with more than 2000 signatures wanting to "save the campground" was counted as a single submission.

Mr Flavell says this is exactly the kind of behaviour he wants the council to be held accountable for.

"This is not a threat, they know from past experience that I'm willing to go all the way to court," he says.

WHERE DECISIONS LIE: What the Auckland Council documents say: Decision-making responsibility may be allocated to the local boards by the governing body in line with principles in the legislation. Local boards make decisions on, and have oversight of, a broad range of local projects, programmes and activities and assets such as local parks, libraries, events, recreational facilities and cultural activities, except where decision-making on an Auckland-wide basis will better promote the wellbeing of communities across Auckland.

North Shore Times