North Shore ward

RATINGS GUIDE:

$ to $$$$$ with $ being a leftist trougher and $$$$$ being small government dynamo.

For some, however, a clown is more appropriate. More than one may be awarded.

This is going to be a tough one. When you look through the options you’ll see why. I suppose I could recommend not voting at all, but that kinda contradicts the point of this exercise. The biggest issue in this ward is the proposal to sell a Takapuna golf course, turning the site into a Town Centre for Takapuna. It has been viciously argued over for the last nine years. I support the sale.

You may cast up to 2 votes for 2 positions in this FPP election

Anthony Bunting – Independent $$$$

Bunting has virtually no google footprint and unusually, no picture of himself in the candidate profile. All we have to go on is his candidate profile statement.

He has a construction business which has been building new homes on North Shore for ten years, after a career in the Navy based at Devonport. Unsurprisingly, he is frustrated at the money wasted by the Council complying with the RMA and building consent processes. No doubt this includes a significant amount of his own money too.

Bunting appears to be a reluctant politician. Despite the enormous changes taking place in the region he sees the same old faces on billboards each election and isn’t convinced they are going to tackle the issues he faces, building new homes in the area.

He says he is a straight shooter that he offers new blood, open-door meetings and recognising ratepayers pay his wages. Someone who knows how to run a business needs to represent North Shore at the Council table.

That looks bloody good to me.

Chris Darby – Taking the Shore Forward $

But first, view this video; Chris Darby Looks At Things

You may recall during my review of the Howick ward race I commented on the sloppy affiliations used by David Collings, running on a “Collings for Council” ticket. Darby’s affiliation is Taking the Shore Forward. Richard Hills is Darby’s running mate in all but affiliation lists his affiliation as A Positive Voice for the Shore.

Section 57(3) of the Local Electoral Act 2001 states: An affiliation is ‘an endorsement by any organisation or group (whether incorporated or unincorporated).’

A candidate claiming a specific affiliation should supply with their nomination paper an authority to adopt the affiliation for the organisation or group concerned (i.e. letter of consent to use the affiliation from the organisation or group). This is a safety measure to avoid any illegal adoption of affiliations.

  • Affiliations that will not be accepted are ones: 
  • that might cause offence or 
  • are likely to confuse or mislead electors or 
  • are election slogans rather than the name of an organisation or group.

I’m highly sceptical that there are organisations named Taking the Shore Forward and A Positive Voice for the Shore that have supplied authorisations along with these two candidates’ nomination forms authorising them to use their names as endorsing organisations.

I’ve lodged an OIA request with the Auckland Council Electoral Officer who, to his credit replied quickly, to advise the nomination forms and supporting documentation are public documents which can be viewed at the Electoral Office. Alas, they’re only available to view during business hours so it will be a week before I can go in to view them. Will keep you posted.

Now, back to Darby. Little known fact, he was a supporter of Ngati Whatua’s occupation of Bastion Point, present on eviction day on May 25 1978. Prior to the formation of the super city, he served on North Shore City Council. He failed to be elected to Auckland Council 2010, settling for a place on Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, but won the Council race in 2013. Darby has generally sat with the left, his voting record closely matching Len Brown and Phil Goff. The latter appointed Darby Chair of the Planning Committee in 2016. In 2016, he was one of the Terrible Ten who voted in favour of the 9.9% rates increase.

Darby has positioned himself as a far-left, anti-car, pro-public transport extremist in favour of stringent planning laws leading to regulatory intensification. In 2015, when Labour joined National in supporting the extension or removal of the urban boundary, Darby said politicians should stay out of the issue. When new mega-mall Westfield NorthWest opened the same year, Darby labelled it “the anchor of more sprawl and a dire Henderson town centre left in its wake.” Darby seems to hold malls responsible for the decline of small business centres like Henderson; however, there are no mega-malls without customers. Their money clearly votes for increasing numbers of mega malls over blighted stretches of road.

Darby is on the side of those who wish to sell the Takapuna car park (probably the only thing I’d ever agree with him on), which really is playing with fire in this ward.

When Phil Goff announced free use of public transport for under 16’s on weekends, Darby was at the mayor’s side for the announcement as a strong advocate. Considering under 16’s don’t currently drive cars and the weekends have minimal congestion, the only reason for doing it is to instil bus/train usage into the minds of the young ensuring thorough brainwashing by the time they can drive.

In June of this year, the Governing Body approved a submission to the Government calling for universal design standards for residential buildings, requiring them to be accessible to all people regardless of age, disability or other factors. Currently, that requirement only exists for commercial buildings. Darby is a cheerleader for the change because current rules disadvantage the 10% of Aucklanders that have a mobility impairment. Earlier attempts by Auckland Council to include this in the Unitary Plan were removed by the independent hearings panel who felt it would be in conflict with the Building Act. 

Every regulation added to a product or activity results in an additional cost. Sometimes it may be the opportunity cost of doing the activity a different, more efficient way but usually, the cost is visible and financial. If the number of Aucklanders needing accessibility adaptations in private housing is significant, removing regulatory distortion as a factor, the market will respond and the provision of such houses increase. The answer to a minor problem for some Aucklanders isn’t applying whole-scale compulsion to all new developments to include these features in every private home. Property rights is not a phrase in Darby’s lexicon, but there are volumes covering central planning of every aspect to the nth degree.

Darby’s blind hatred of private vehicles is being played out in the Auckland CBD, whether it be lowering speed limits to 30 km/h, increasing shared spaces giving pedestrians right of way or complete removal of car access entirely as is proposed for Auckland’s High Street, costing $14-22m. Darby says, “Personal mobility and enjoyment trumps parking and kerbs to bring people out on the street. It’s time to trigger that change.”

Chris has identified several priorities if he gets another term on Auckland Council: securing a fair share of funding for the Shore (what is fair?), advancing Shore rail (0% achieved thus far but I’ll return to that), safeguarding strategic assets like Watercare, capping rates (he has voted for 9.9% increases previously) and reining in Auckland Transport (whatever that means).

Darby is also indulging in the climate change Kool-Aid. In saying that I’m not denying the climate is changing, I’m saying there is absolutely no chance anything Auckland Council does will have any impact on it.

Finally, Darby’s obsession with rail linking the Shore, which has got nowhere, is not something I’d completely write off as a worthwhile possibility. There is no denying the harbour needs at least one more crossing. I previously advocated a second crossing, linking the Meola Reef to Chelsea with a motorway linked up to the Albany Highway, at a cost of $5.5 billion. While I haven’t fully investigated the possibilities, a third crossing from Devonport to the Eastern Corridor would certainly suck the congestion out of SH1 and Lake Rd. 

It’s big-ticket stuff, but if rail were to become a reality on the Shore then it should be accompanied by a new parallel road crossing. I’d pay for it by applying electronic road pricing as an alternative to regressive petrol taxes, which still don’t come close to covering the cost of transport infrastructure.

Grant Gillon – More For The Shore $

Grant Gillon has previously worked as a firefighter and union official but his first political position was as an Alliance MP, a radical left collection of minor parties, from 1996 until its collapse in 2002. Gillon followed Jim Anderton from The Alliance to the new Progressive Coalition which vanished with Anderton’s resignation from politics.

Gillon has been on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board since 2010, missing out on the North Shore Council seat by 128 votes in 2016.

On the Takapuna Car Park controversy, after initially opposing the sale, Gillon has switched to favouring an alternative plan put forward by designers Richard Reid & Associates

Gillon’s planning ideology falls on the NIMBY/heritage imposition side of the ledger, opposing the development of denser multi-storey apartments. Heritage preservation is a bugbear particular to the Devonport area of his local board, where resident historical groups have run rampant against property owners, including businesses, with expensive court battles to prevent property owners enjoying the natural extension of ownership, making alterations to their buildings.

In 2014, Gillon backed the NIMBYs trying to block the redevelopment of the Baywater Village Marina, claiming that was what the community wanted. A Colmar Brunton poll at the time found that wasn’t the case, with 70% of residents polled being in favour of the development going ahead and 86% supporting new facilities for the Takapuna Rowing Club.

He says he will advocate strongly for reduced congestion on residential streets. However, his methods of congestion reduction tend to favour public transport options with buses and ferries and improved cycling and walking infrastructure.

Private vehicle use is the overwhelming preference for Aucklanders, with car occupancy rates in Devonport and Takapuna averaging 1.2 people each. Were we talking about a private good or service, profits would come from providing what most consumers want. Because it is Council, with thinly-spread resources addressing an ‘expense,’ the strategy is altering preferences to cheaper transport methods by making private vehicles unbearable.

Danielle Grant – More For The Shore $$

View Danielle Grant’s campaign video

Danielle Grant has served on the Kaipatiki Local Board for two terms and is standing again as well as running for the North Shore council ward, on the More For The Shore ticket with Grant Gillon.

It’s a bit of an odd pairing up when you consider Grant contested North Shore on the right-wing Auckland Future ticket in 2016. This vote split led to popular and reliable Independent George Wood withdrawing from the Council race to form a new ticket on Devonport-Takapuna Local Board. The result of the 2016 election saw two left-wing candidates being returned to the Governing Body.

Grant Gillon, a former Alliance MP and union organiser is on the far left of the political spectrum so it is reasonable to presume that Danielle Grant’s driving priority is her own political career.

Her candidate profile provides overwhelming evidence that Danielle’s political principles are as flexible as a broken flip flop and leaves North Shore voters in a position of choosing the less bad option for their second vote.

Her message on congestion is that it is frustrating and she will hold Auckland Transport to account. That will be as effective as a slap with a wet wipe. She accurately identifies Lake Rd and Onewa Rd as the most urgent congestion hot points in the ward. Her solutions are “to lead the major projects we see before us [and] work for sensible solutions.” That’s a complete cop-out.

She advocates building more separate path options for cyclists, more frequent bus services and upgrades of the Bayswater Ferry terminal and an all weather service for Northcote wharf plus weekend ferry services in other parts of the ward. Completely useless.

Danielle Grant also states her focus is on Council core business. In reality, she is borrowing fiscally prudent buzzwords without taking them seriously. Increased funding for sporting groups, investing more money into increased numbers of Council owned social houses, and adding free wifi to bus stops are not core Council functions.

Grant also identifies climate change as a significant issue. That may or may not be the case but it isn’t a core Council issue. 

Prior to writing this article, I thought I’d be supporting Grant but now I don’t even trust her.

Richard Hills – A Positive Voice for the Shore $$

Hills is the other left-wing incumbent in this ward, and essentially on the same ticket as Darby in every way except the affiliation slogan on their voting papers. He is also a longtime Labour party member, unsuccessfully seeking to be their candidate in the 2018 Northcote by-election. Hills beat Grant Gillon by 128 votes to become the Councillor in 2016.

Richard was awarded an A+ by radical left Generation Zero for his positions on housing, transport and the environment. No doubt that was helped by his support for Mayor Phil Goff’s dopey idea making buses free for under 15’s on weekends.

Projects which Hills takes some credit for driving include double-decker buses for Onewa Rd routes, water quality projects, the Beach Haven Ferry terminal and funding for parks, community facilities and Kaipatiki bush tracks.

The Devonport-Takapuna Local Board has attacked Auckland Council for later deferring the funding for some of those projects; however, Councillor Chris Darby says the reason for that funding deferment is the insistence of the local board on full public notification of the resource consent. That adds six to twelve months to the timeline, and Council finance policy only permits budgets to be confirmed when there is a reasonable chance of the project being delivered in the year it is budgeted for. Gillon has also complained that the local board only had three ‘growth funded’ projects in the area that were now funding deferred, another claim Hills points out is false.

Hills has also pushed the development of the Marlborough Park Youth facility and secured funding for Lake Rd, Birkenhead War Memorial and Skypath (which continues to suffer delays of its own).

Other priorities identified by Hills include making sure “those with diverse backgrounds are included in decision making.” upgrading bush tracks, playgrounds, sports fields and community facilities. He also wants to invest more in the arts; in my opinion that’s throwing money away rather than investing it.

Whatever I may think of Hills’ policy positions and achievements, he is at least engaging and competent. Hills has been effective and diligent over this term, make what you want from that.

MY RECOMMENDATION: This is a hard pick. One unknown right wing candidate. Three well known left wing candidates. One former right wing candidate.

You may cast up to 2 votes in this FPP contest.

  • Anthony Bunting – Independent
  • Richard Hills – A Positive Voice for the Shore