Let's fix our "unsafe" roads.
That's the message from Rodney Local Board member Greg Sayers and others behind a campaign calling for urgent council funding to address the problem
The plea follows a column by veteran journalist Pat Booth of Leigh in our May 22 issue.
Supporting it is the Landowners and Contractors Protection Association, representing rural landowners on issues affecting property owners.
The "Seal Rodney Roads" campaign gives all Auckland residents a vehicle to protest and document compelling evidence of the hazards they face when driving in the area.
It's a move the association hopes will result in a greater spend of rates back into Rodney on road improvements.
Sayers says the issues aren't being taken seriously enough and that the community has been left feeling powerless.
He cites a recent example where the Auckland Council has decided to seal three kilometres of roads a year, compared to the 60km annually required.
"This out of sight out of mind mentality has proved the biggest hurdle for budgetary allocation for tar sealing," he says.
But maintaining adequate shingle on roads until they can be sealed is also part of the campaign's objective.
Sayers says consistent requests from local citizens have not carried enough weight to convince Auckland's councillors of the urgency required for making Rodney roads safe. He says the latest campaign will set about to change that through graphic factual evidence.
"If the councillor's won't come here to witness the personal and financial toll unsafe roads are having on the people of Rodney, then the people must take the fight to them," Sayers says. "All people are wanting is a fair deal, but their plea is falling on deaf ears."
Sayers has sought assistance from a number of community leaders to support the citizen driven initiative to get urgent action.
He's using the internet to collect data about the cost unsafe roads are causing businesses and families.
Bumper stickers and advertising across Auckland will complement the launch of a web page where people can register this information.
"The power of the correlated information will see our Rodney residents able to flex their democratic muscle and collectively sway the council to seal our roads through a process of capturing graphic indisputable factual evidence," Landowners and Contractors Protection Association spokeswoman Julie Cotton of Tapora says.
School bus operator Lyndon Leabourn says maintaining roads with an adequate layer of shingle is needed before sealing is even contemplated. He says many roads are a disgrace, dangerous and children's lives are daily being put at risk as a result.
"Over the past three years the roads have progressively got worse and are now unsafe. It's unheard of. It's beyond critical," he says.
Leabourn wants all school bus routes better maintained as an urgent health and safety issue.
Sayers says there's no excuse for the Council to blame Auckland Transport for the state of the roads. "Auckland Transport is totally dependent on ratepayer money being allocated to it from the Auckland Council," he says. "It's the councillors who are failing us by pinching roading money to fund city based projects at the price of our safety."
All of Auckland's elected councillors sit on the finance and performance committee chaired by Rodney councillor Penny Webster.
The committee is responsible for monitoring the overall financial management and for making decisions required outside of the annual budgeting processes.
Webster, of Snells Beach, says she supports the campaign and has been trying for many years to get Rodney roading improvements.
"But it's more complicated than that. We have to get the cost of nearly $500,000 a kilometre down and there's only so much money to go around."
Webster says she's concerned about safety issues around country schools too.
She's in talks with the Ministry of Transport and Auckland Transport to try to resolve some of the roading issues.
Landowners and Contractors Protection Association chairman Brian Mason says rural residents, who have paid an additional targeted rate on top of the standard rate charges for road sealing via the Araparera Forest deal, have become bitter through what has been seen as a failure between the legacy Rodney District Council and Auckland Council to provide the most basic core service.
The campaign website is using the social networking power of Facebook to raise awareness of people's concerns and can be found be searching "Seal Rodney Roads".
Sayers asks residents to help kick off the "the people's campaign" by posting photos, video or any comment of deplorable road conditions directly onto the Facebook page.
Evidence collected will be used to present a case to fix Rodney's roads to the finance and performance committee. Email Greg.Sayers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.
- Rodney Times
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