Last night I attended the Howick Local Board meeting and Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore was present to provide an update on regional issues, starting off by noting that localism was the council's greatest weakness. This sums up a lot of the issues that we heard last night but also throughout the city.
We heard again from the Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School who need safety improvements outside the new school to protect their young students from trucks. This conversation started 11 months ago and the process has been very slow but last night funding was approved to start work on addressing these issues. Also approved was funds to help Botany Downs Secondary College who also have safety challenges outside their school.
The fight to save Stockade Hill views continues and Janet Dickson was present to talk to the local board, supported by tireless champions the Defencibles.
There have been some developments and there are a number of moving parts to this. The original Plan Change 3 will provide a 137 degree protection but we want to save 360 degrees. A new Plan Change 26 will provide clarity on how Special Character Area Overlays work which may help, although Howick's overlay isn't ready and also doesn't include Stockade Hill.
The Board had asked council staff for advice on how to advocate for a solution and received a response last night which was effectively that there was no workable solution. Going against the advice of council staff, the Board unanimously voted to "obtain independent planning and other necessary supporting advice to inform the board on options available to advocate for a change of plan or control development around Stockade Hill" including funds to do so.
This feels like progress, although it's taken far to long to get to this point and there's still a long way to go. What concerns me the most is that the issue has been caused by council failing to listen to locals - the loss of localism.
We need a strong councillor who can take the concerns of our community to council and fight for locals. If elected councillor, I will continue to stand with locals and ensure that East Auckland is heard at the council table.