Email trail / various correspondence on the topic of sealing local roads in Rodney.

This is in reverse chronological order, but grouped by exchange and type. – We committed to sharing any replies (received at the Grapevine) from the emailed group (of councillors, local board members and Auckland Transport) directly with our readers:

If you wish to comment on this, or send any ideas / comments / support or suggestions to Glen (who is the person who requested that the various groups within the council respond to his initial letter) then please email Glen directly here: glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz

Glen’s update post to all Ahuroa Grapevine residents; Sent out to all on 27th Nov.

Hi all Ahuroa residents,

Hopefully many of you have been following the campaign to get the Ahuroa to Puhoi road sealed. If not you can read about it on the Ahuroa Grapevine website. Chris has given his time to publish response and replies from the various Auckland Council hierarchy. To show community support I would like each of you to email me direct at glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz with your opinion/support and name. I will collate all your replies into one document in my next correspondence with the Council.

Here is a quick summary of my findings to date:

  • At present there is only $3.4 million per annum allocated to extending seal for the entire Auckland Super City area.
  • With the present priorities and funding for the sealing of Ahuroa Road:
    • Earliest start date 2019 possibly to very small sections less than 1Km near the school
    • Then 2022 about 5Km  on the Ahuroa flat to the top of the Puhoi hill
    • Then a long wait until 2029 for another small (0.45 Km) section in Ahuroa
    • The remaining section (2.44 Km)  from the top of hill down the Puhoi side will not be started for 45 years!
    • Any of the side roads will not be sealed for at least 200 years!
    • Ahuroa has very few Auckland Council Services; metal road maintenance, rubbish collection.
  • $2.5 Billion will be spent on the Britomart – Mt Eden rail link for completion in 8 years. That is just one of many inner city projects.

From correspondence, meetings and phone conversations:

  • Rodney Local Board are strong advocates for having our roads sealed especially Greg Sayers
  • Rodney Ward Councillor, Penny Webster, is also a strong advocate but Penny is just 1 voice amongst 20 Auckland Councillors
  • Auckland Transport are controlled by Auckland Council however their planning and budgeting is public transport and inner city congestion prioritised
  • Auckland Council Executive prepare the budgets and are also inner city centric … yet have not communicated on this issue
  • The Mayor (& his office) is ultimately responsible with his budget direction being inner city centric … there has been no communication from the mayor on this issue

I understand the need to prioritise projects but Ahuroa rates are being diverted into the inner Super City.

This issue effects not only Ahuroa but every rural community in Rodney. The Mahurangi Local Matters has phoned me and are interested in publishing the Ahuroa road issue. Sealing roads has been a hot topic in Rodney ever since we joined the Super City.

You can read more detail on the Ahuroa Grapevine website http://www.ahuroa.nz/project/ahuroa-road-sealing/

I look forward to your responses, remember glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz I am going to continue to pursue this matter.

Glen

p.s. for those who don’t know me I farm at the end of Hawkens Rd and travel daily over the Ahuroa Rd with the “POBBS” number plate.

Glen to various recipients after his meeting with Tony McCartney from Auckland Transport
Sent: 16th Nov

From: Glen Ashton <glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz>
To: ‘Phelan Pirrie – Rodney’ <Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Councillor Penny Webster’ <Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Mayor Len Brown’ <Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘David Warburton (AT’ <David.Warburton@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Edmonds (AT’ <Greg.Edmonds@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Stephen Town’ <Stephen.Town@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Dean Kimpton’ <Dean.Kimpton@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Sayers – Rodney, Hibiscus & Bays’ <Greg.Sayers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, Christine.fletcher@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, mp.rodney@parliament.govt.nz, Tony.McCartney@aucklandtransport.govt.nz, andy.finch@aucklandtransport.govt.nz, news@localmatters.co.nz
Cc: ‘Ahuroa Electronic Grapevine’ <admin@ahuroa.co.nz>
Subject: RE: Ahuroa road sealing
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2015 14:50:54 +1300

Hi all

On Tuesday 10th November I had an informal meeting with Tony McCartney, Group Manager Road Corridor AT. Tony is only 2 direct reports from CEO David Warburton so along with the letter response from Andy Finch it is great that AT are taking this issue seriously.

Both Penny Webster and Greg Sayers responded that they were unable to attend the meeting because of prior commitments.

Before the meeting Tony drove the Ahuroa road from Ahuroa to Puhoi so had first-hand knowledge of the condition of the metal road. Tony was a little surprised that the railway line came through Ahuroa and even more surprised when I informed  him that it is the main route through to Britomart and in days bygone had a railway station and was a common means of passenger transport to Auckland City.

Tony also was surprised how much new housing there was on lifestyle blocks and I also said there were considerable more housing on J Tolhopf Road and Ahuroa Valley Road all adding to the traffic on Ahuroa Road. I mentioned that the road is used daily by the school bus and that NZTA use the route to divert traffic when State Highway 1 has an accident which on the two recent events caused a complete traffic jam.

Tony noticed four things on his road journey:

  • Dust nuisance
  • Corrugations on the hill section
  • Two blind hairpin bends
  • Multiple bends of top section

I added that there were narrow sections of road caused by subsidence and water culvert erosion.

Tony said that under the road maintenance budget there were strict guidelines as to what works could be undertaken to improve a road asset as some of the funding came from NZTA. Basically it covered the grader, water truck and roller. It did not cover major works like retention walls or erosion controls.

I mentioned that new corrugated plastic culverts (recycled plastic) were cheap, 6 metre length, high specification and ideal for adding onto under road concrete culverts to extend water flow away from the road to solve the problem of erosion.

Tony mentioned that AT were investigating products for dust suppressants other than historically and now banned waste oil.

Tony and I agreed that corrugations are the nature of metal roads that are steep and cornered, but it is alarming the corrugations have recurred only a month after the road being graded. The only long term solution is sealing.

Tony mentioned that there would need to be considerable engineering works undertaken to improve the hairpin bends and corners on the road and that the current formation would not be suitable for an immediate seal. It was agreed that visibility of oncoming traffic was a serious issue.

We did agree that the flatter, straighter sections on the Ahuroa side have a good base and would be relatively easy to seal.

We discussed that it would be 45 years before the 9 Km of Ahuroa Road was sealed and probably 600 years (Tony’s estimate) before side roads were sealed under the present budget and AT sealing priority system.

Tony agreed that the very small extension sealing budget was the reason for very limited progress and that sealing cost on average $1 million per Km. At only $3.4 million per annum that meant that only 3.4 Km of new road sealing for the entire Auckland City each year. The reason for the low budget being the competition for allocation against other Council services and then the competition within the Transport budget against public transport and the major inner Auckland City congestion projects. Tony said that extension sealing budget amount was set by the Auckland Council although AT did make recommendations on priorities for Transport spending.

Tony said it would be difficult to get further extension sealing funding for the rural roads whilst there was Auckland Council focus on the inner city projects.

Tony said that AT had no solution to the funding dilemma but that they were working hard on sealing alternatives and cost savings but the outcome would probably only be about 10% more productivity.

We discussed that under Rodney Council the Ahuroa road was progressively getting sealed but that had stopped when Rodney was included in the Super City. Now it is not only Ahuroa but other Rodney rural communities that are being neglected by the Super city.

Tony concluded that he could not offer a solution but that he would keep me informed.

It has become increasingly obvious that it is Mayor Len Brown and Auckland Council Executive that have diverted Ahuroa and Rodney Rural rates into the inner Super City major projects. It is also Len and Stephen Town who have yet to communicate on this issue.

Regards

Glen

Glen to Tony McCartney @ Auckland Transport – 9th Nov

From: Glen Ashton <glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz>
To: ‘Phelan Pirrie – Rodney’ <Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Councillor Penny Webster’ <Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Mayor Len Brown’ <Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘David Warburton (AT’ <David.Warburton@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Edmonds (AT’ <Greg.Edmonds@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Stephen Town’ <Stephen.Town@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Dean Kimpton’ <Dean.Kimpton@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Sayers – Rodney, Hibiscus & Bays’ <Greg.Sayers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, localmatters@xtra.co.nz, Christine.fletcher@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, lester.levy@aucklandtransport.govy.nz, mp.rodney@parliament.govt.nz, Tony.McCartney@aucklandtransport.govt.nz
Cc: ‘Ahuroa Electronic Grapevine’ <admin@ahuroa.co.nz>
Subject: RE: Ahuroa road sealing
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 2015 10:18:36 +1300

Hi Tony (and all others)

I can meet you tomorrow at Puhoi to discuss the Ahuroa road sealing matter that I and the Ahuroa community have raised.

If you email back a time, then we can meet at the Puhoi Store Coffee Shop. If time permits we can traverse the Puhoi – Ahuroa road which would give you first-hand practical knowledge of this metal corridor.

Under your current planning, Ahuroa Road sealing will not commence sealing until at least 2019 and will not be completed for 45 years! This is the discussion topic.

I understand how AT priority process for new road sealing of unsealed roads within the entire Super City works. Obviously it is advantageous if the sections of Ahuroa Road are high priority. The real issue is that new road sealing is severely underfunded at $3.4 million per annum budget (up from the original $1 million per annum with the new extra rates transport levy).

So let us put this in perspective for the rural rate payers of Rodney whose number one priority is to have their roads sealed.

At $1 million per Km it will take 253 years to complete all road sealing in the Super City.

As a comparison, $2.5 Billion dollars will be spent on the Inner City Rail link for a completion in 2023, 8 years!

This is just one example, of the many projects allocated funds for a “nice to have” whilst rural Rodney cannot even get the basics!

I note that you are on the AT Executive Team and only two direct reports from David Warburton. I have also read your “Delivering Smarter Transport Networks” presentation.

In your Program Budget, only 0.12% of the budget is allocated to seal extensions.

The maps that you have inserted exclude Ahuroa and rural Rodney, and depict a very Super City centric model. Is rural Rodney neglected? Are we part of the Super City?

It is very obvious from your planning that rural Rodney rates are being used to fund inner city projects. For rural Rodney people the predicted nightmare has become true … we have been suckered (forced) into the Super City and now being neglected on basic services whilst our city counterparts are being lavished with nice to have extras. It was far better under Rodney Council.

Seal extensions requires an immediate budget of $100 million and then $10 million per annum if any reasonable headway is to be made.

Kiwis my age are renowned for their lateral thinking and ingenuity but these attributes seem to be sadly lost with the trusted civil servant leaders and executive of the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport. Are we solving the congestion issues of inner Auckland Super City? On the weekends there is very little issue. That is because thousands of workers are not trying to commute in and out of the central city in rush hour. Herein lies the answer. Change the obsession to have a centric Auckland City business model. Change it to a distributed business model. Give businesses the incentive to relocate out of downtown Auckland into the suburbs and fringe rural areas. Many, many businesses have no necessity to be located in the downtown area. In this electronic age with fibre broadband, business location is optional. This model already works well in many overseas cities. Think of the cost saving. How enjoyable would it be to work close to home instead of 2 hours per day stuck in congestion. Do Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have leaders capable of thinking outside the box or do they have tunnel vision?

I still have had no response from the Mayor or the Auckland Council Executive. It seems they are choosing to ignore Ahuroa and rural Rodney on the road sealing issue even though it is they who are responsible, recommend and approve the budget! Perhaps they do not wish to be accountable. I note the Mayor is finished after this term.

Tony, I look forward to our meeting

Regards

Glen

P.S. Please be aware this debate is in the public domain.

From: Tony McCartney (AT) [mailto:Tony.McCartney@aucklandtransport.govt.nz] Sent: 6 November 2015 1:59 p.m.
To: glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz
Cc: Rochelle D’Souza (AT) <Rochelle.DSouza@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>
Subject: Rates and Roading discussion

Glen got your message re my message.

Maybe easier to coordinate by email.  I could be up in Puhoi on Tuesday around the middle of the day if that helps.  If not, it will need to be the week after.

Tony McCartney
Group Manager Road Corridor
Level 2, Vodafone Building, Smales Farm Office Park
74 Taharoto Road, Takapuna
Private Bag 92250, Auckland 1142
DDI 09 4475141       |M 021746260
www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz
Tony.McCartney@aucklandtransport.govt.nz
 7BA8D3B0-5056-975E-2BF7A298F1547AE8.pdf

Reply to all whole group from Glen – 22nd Oct

From: Glen Ashton <glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz>
To: ‘Phelan Pirrie – Rodney’ <Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Councillor Penny Webster’ <Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Mayor Len Brown’ <Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘David Warburton (AT’ <David.Warburton@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Edmonds (AT’ <Greg.Edmonds@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Stephen Town’ <Stephen.Town@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Dean Kimpton’ <Dean.Kimpton@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Sayers – Rodney, Hibiscus & Bays’ <Greg.Sayers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, localmatters@xtra.co.nz, Christine.fletcher@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz, lester.levy@aucklandtransport.govy.nz
Cc: ‘Ahuroa Electronic Grapevine’ <admin@ahuroa.co.nz>
Subject: RE: Ahuroa road sealing
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 2015 10:08:16 +1300

Hi all

Below I have included the reply from Andy Finch. I have commented in red

In summary, what Andy is not communicating to the Ahuroa community and the wider Rodney Rural community is:

Auckland Transport Board and Executive can be blamed for recommending “nice to have” projects ahead of Rural Rodney basic upgrades. Funding allocation for seal extensions needs to be increased tenfold and the LTP adjusted accordingly. Robbing Rural Rodney of their rates entitlement has to stop. Our rates have to be spent in our communities on our services.

The Auckland Transport Vision, Mission and Values statements are not being applied to Rural Rodney, it is only applying to the centric Super City.

From 2014 Auckland Transport accounts:

  • revenue of about $1 billion
  • expenditure on new capital roads $218 million
  • expenditure on new public transport & trains $268 million
  • all of Auckland road sealing extensions $3.4 million (0.34% of revenue, 0.72% new capital expenditure)

in 2015, the AT revenue will be greater when the Transport Levy rate is collected.

So getting back to basics, the Ahuroa community with very few services (no public transport) will not have the Ahuroa Road (arterial link with Puhoi community) fully sealed for more than 40 years under the current AT regime, planning and budget!

All of Rural Rodney is affected in the same manner. The Auckland Council and Controlled Organisations are happy to take our rates but loath to better our services.

Please correct me if I am wrong but the Super City is proving to be a very bad amalgamation for Ahuroa and Rodney Rural.

I guess Auckland Transport could point the finger at the Mayor’s office but AT are aiding and abetting.

Whilst the Ahuroa Road issue might seem a trivial, it is the much wider implication for all of Rural Rodney that is alarming.

Still waiting for a reply from the Mayor and Auckland Council Executive.

Regards

Glen Ashton


Letter from Andy Finch

21 October 2015
Glen Ashton
glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz

Dear Glen,

Sealing of Ahuroa Road

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the relativity of infrastructure spending in the Rodney area. I am responding on the sealing of the unsealed sections of Ahuroa Road between Ahuroa and Puhoi.

Historically, Rodney has had an extensive unsealed road network which reflected the largely rural nature of the area. With the growth in population across the Auckland region, as with the Hauraki Gulf Islands and to a lesser extent Franklin, there has been increasing pressure to seal the unsealed road network to mitigate the increasing traffic volumes and dust nuisance.

The cost of sealing in Rodney is significant. Many of the roads having a high priority are in difficult terrain and many may require land acquisition to ensure that appropriate design standards can be achieved. Whilst, in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to relax some of these standards, Auckland Transport has to ensure that in sealing a road, the higher vehicles speeds generated, do not cause a greater safety risk in terms of frequency or severity.

GA:> Speed limits can be set in place to control safety risk. We have high speed motorways but restrict speed compared to the German autobahn. The same applies to any road whether it is sealed or gravel, it is common sense.

Budgetary constraints are also significant. The benefits accruing from sealing are very localised in nature. Road sealing is not currently of sufficient national priority to attract regional transport funding from government. Equally, within Auckland the seal extension budget is competing for the limited funding made available to Auckland Transport against other projects generating significant regional benefits.

The level of funding for seal extensions identified in Auckland Council’s Long Term Plan totals $10m over the three year period from 2015 to 2018. Whilst this is clearly a significant investment, it falls short of the level needed to make significant progress in sealing the 868km of unsealed roads across Auckland. There is therefore a need to prioritise this investment to ensure that it delivers the maximum benefits to residents.

GA:> $10m per 3 years ($3.4m per annum) is a pittance compared to the total Auckland Council Budget. Ahuroa, along with all rural Rodney communities have only two AC services, rural roads and rubbish collection. From Rodney Rural there is a far greater rate & targeted transport levy than $3.4m per annum. Why is there not more allocation to seal extensions?

At the current LTP allocation amount it is going to take a long, long time to improve the Rodney Rural road network.

The prioritisation is undertaken using the criteria contained in the Seal Extension Guidelines.

The criteria considers traffic volume including heavy commercial vehicles, houses and amenities close to the road, safety (traffic accidents) and road gradient (steepness). The highest weighting for prioritisation is given to traffic volume as vehicle movements are the primary cause of dust.

Over the last six months the unsealed road network has been reprioritised to ensure that it reflects any major changes in traffic volumes and residential density. There are five unsealed sections of Ahuroa Road, three of which feature in the top 12 of ranked sealing projects. These are detailed on the attached drawing along with the schedule of the high priority sealing sites.

Currently, work is progressing to complete the sealing of Matakana Valley Road. This is Auckland Transport’s highest priority project and will be completed by May 2016. A contract is about to be awarded for the design for sealing the next three highest priority sites:

  1. Takatu Road (4.5km)
  2. Silver Hill Road (1.8km)
  3. Monowai Road (3.9km)

GA:> We understand the need to prioritise the order of road sections to be sealed as ongoing funding becomes available. It is also good the priority lists are updated to reflect the current statistics.

It would be worthwhile AT considering that there be a criteria for thoroughfare roads as sealed alternative network routes will offload traffic volumes from more main arterial routes thus easing congestion.

There does seem to be an anomaly between the 2014/15 Seal Extension High Priority List and the Banded priority list; Ahuroa road is medium priority and one high priority on the other.

The contract also includes for the physical sealing of Takatu Road. Subject to supplier performance the physical sealing of both Silver Hill Road and Monawai Road will follow. The scope of work includes not only pavement sealing, but also retaining walls, road restraint systems, traffic control (signing, lining, reflective road studs) and drainage. All these roads are in the Rodney Local Board area.

Regrettably, however, it is unlikely that the available budget for sealing will allow any of the unsealed sections of Ahuroa Road to be sealed before the next Local Transport Plan in published in 2018.

GA:> Doing the mathematics from the priority list; with regard Ahuroa Road about half the road might be sealed in 6 years, a little bit more in 15 years and the worst section (the Puhoi side of the hill) in 40 years or more!

It is not the sealing priority list that is at fault, it is the mismanagement of budgeting and diversion of Rural Rodney rates into Super City “nice to have” services and amenities, whilst Rural Rodney are left languishing with barely the basics.

Yours sincerely

Andy Finch
Manager, Strategic Asset Management and Systems
Cc Phelan Pirrie – Rodney; Councillor Penny Webster; Mayor Len Brown; David Warburton (AT); Greg Edmonds (AT); Stephen Town; Dean Kimpton; Greg Sayers – Rodney, Hibiscus & Bays; llocalmatters@xtra.co.nz

Response from AT – received 22nd Oct

Auckland Transport responded in formal letter form, the content of which is is linked to here in its original form.

For the sake of ease of access, the text of which has been copied here:


21 October 2015

Glen Ashton
glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz
Click here to enter recipient’s city and postcode

Dear Glen,

Sealing of Ahuroa Road

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the relativity of infrastructure spending in the Rodney area. I am responding on the sealing of the unsealed sections of Ahuroa Road between Ahuroa and Puhoi.

Historically, Rodney has had an extensive unsealed road network which reflected the largely rural nature of the area. With the growth in population across the Auckland region, as with the Hauraki Gulf Islands and to a lesser extent Franklin, there has been increasing pressure to seal the unsealed road network to mitigate the increasing traffic volumes and dust nuisance.

The cost of sealing in Rodney is significant. Many of the roads having a high priority are in difficult terrain and many may require land acquisition to ensure that appropriate design standards can be achieved. Whilst, in certain circumstances it may be appropriate to relax some of these standards, Auckland Transport has to ensure that in sealing a road, the higher vehicles speeds generated, do not cause a greater safety risk in terms of frequency or severity.

Budgetary constraints are also significant. The benefits accruing from sealing are very localised in nature. Road sealing is not currently of sufficient national priority to attract regional transport funding from government. Equally, within Auckland the seal extension budget is competing for the limited funding made available to Auckland Transport against other projects generating significant regional benefits.

The level of funding for seal extensions identified in Auckland Council’s Long Term Plan totals $10m over the three year period from 2015 to 2018. Whilst this is clearly a significant investment, it falls short of the level needed to make significant progress in sealing the 868km of unsealed roads across Auckland. There is therefore a need to prioritise this investment to ensure that it delivers the maximum benefits to residents.

The prioritisation is undertaken using the criteria contained in the Seal Extension Guidelines.

The criteria considers traffic volume including heavy commercial vehicles, houses and amenities close to the road, safety (traffic accidents) and road gradient (steepness). The highest weighting for prioritisation is given to traffic volume as vehicle movements are the primary cause of dust.

Over the last six months the unsealed road network has been reprioritised to ensure that it reflects any major changes in traffic volumes and residential density. There are five unsealed sections of Ahuroa Road, three of which feature in the top 12 of ranked sealing projects. These are detailed on the attached drawing along with the schedule of the high priority sealing sites.

Currently, work is progressing to complete the sealing of Matakana Valley Road. This is Auckland Transport’s highest priority project and will be completed by May 2016. A contract is about to be awarded for the design for sealing the next three highest priority sites:

  1. Takatu Road (4.5km)
  2. Silver Hill Road (1.8km)
  3. Monowai Road (3.9km)

The contract also includes for the physical sealing of Takatu Road. Subject to supplier performance the physical sealing of both Silver Hill Road and Monawai Road will follow. The scope of work includes not only pavement sealing, but also retaining walls, road restraint systems, traffic control (signing, lining, reflective road studs) and drainage. All these roads are in the Rodney Local Board area.

Regrettably, however, it is unlikely that the available budget for sealing will allow any of the unsealed sections of Ahuroa Road to be sealed before the next Local Transport Plan in published in 2018.

Yours sincerely

Andy Finch

Manager, Strategic Asset Management and Systems

Cc Phelan Pirrie – Rodney; Councillor Penny Webster; Mayor Len Brown; David Warburton (AT); Greg Edmonds (AT); Stephen Town; Dean Kimpton; Greg Sayers – Rodney, Hibiscus & Bays; llocalmatters@xtra.co.nz

Glen’s further group reply – 19th Oct, 2015

From: Glen Ashton <glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz>
To: ‘Phelan Pirrie – Rodney’ <Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Councillor Penny Webster’ <Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Mayor Len Brown’ <Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘David Warburton (AT’ <David.Warburton@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Edmonds (AT’ <Greg.Edmonds@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Stephen Town’ <Stephen.Town@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Dean Kimpton’ <Dean.Kimpton@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Sayers – Rodney, Hibiscus & Bays’ <Greg.Sayers@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, llocalmatters@xtra.co.nz
Cc: ‘Ahuroa Electronic Grapevine’ <admin@ahuroa.co.nz>
Subject: RE: Ahuroa road sealing
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2015 10:25:37 +1300

Hi all

I was surprised that Phelan took The CEO’s and Mayor off the distribution list, they are the very people accountable and responsible for the decisions that have caused inadequate sealing of rural roads. Of all our elected and employed servants it is this very small minority at the top of the Auckland Council hierarchy that need to listen and respond to the ratepayer communities. Whilst this issue has been raised by the Ahuroa community it is certainly a much bigger Rodney Rural issue.

I still expect the Mayor, Auckland Council Executive and Auckland Transport Executive to respond as per Consultation under the Local Government Act. It is this group that are setting and controlling the Vision, Strategy, Budget and Spending that is Auckland centric leaving rural Rodney to languish with third world services.

Therefore I have included the hierarchy back on the circulation.

From the informative replies of Phelan and Penny it is evident that both the Local Rodney Board and Councillors from the Rodney area are aligned with the rural community. Their attempts to get extra funding for local rural road sealing is being stifled by the hierarchy.

An allocation of $3.4 million per annum for new road sealing for all Auckland City is a pittance.

For last year ending June 2015:

Auckland City total capital expenditure $1,675 million

Of that, $1,217 million was spent on new services and improvements (watercare, sewerage, public transport etc) , which are non-existent in Ahuroa (and most of rural Rodney).

$450 million was spent on new and improved roading.

Putting this in perspective:

The Rodney new road sealing got only 0.007% of the road spend and only 0.002% of the total capital spend.

It would be interesting  to apply the same percentage calculations to the Council Rates differential calculations.

Surely the Mayor, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport hierarchy are mathematically and politically astute to realise that they cannot continue in this vein, to take rates from rural Rodney without improving basic rural services. Necessities need to be addressed before niceties. Ahuroa and Rural Rodney are only asking for the very basic of services.       

Regards

Glen

Reply from Penny Webster and further response from Glen

We committed to sharing any replies (received at the Grapevine) from the emailed group (of councillors, local board members and Auckland Transport) directly with our readers:

If you wish to comment on this, or send any ideas / comments / support or suggestions to Glen (who is the person who requested that the various groups within the council respond to his initial letter) then please email Glen directly here: glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz


In response to Glen’s original email to the Council, Local Board and Auckland Transport, Penny Webster has provided the following response (for the record, permission has been received from Penny (verbally to Glen by phone message) to publish her response, which had been, initially, sent only to Glen):

From: Councillor Penny Webster [mailto:Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
Sent: 13 October 2015 2:44 p.m
To: Glen Ashton <glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz
Subject: RE: Ahuroa road sealing

Hi Glen
I wish I did have the power to wave a wand and seal all the roads I often use Ahuroa road as an example of a road that needs to be further up the list. We should be prioritizing through roads and school bus routes. I am also working on getting the Health Dept involved because if it can be proved that there is a health issue we may get more Government subsidy
Cheers
Penny

Sent from my Windows Phone

To which Glen replied:

On 14/10/15 9:09 AM, Glen Ashton wrote:

Hi Penny

Thanks for the reply. Any extra central Government funding would be a bonus. You are correct the Ahuroa road is the school bus route. It would be a tragedy if the school bus had an accident.

Certainly there are heath issues, road dust is major, constant jarring on the body and the high risk of accident. There are four blind corners on the hill that are always corrugated in spite of the efforts of the maintenance grader driver. Corrugations and potholes make it difficult to control a vehicle and can cause uncontrolled sideways movement and skidding. There is no central white line to delineate the left and right side of the road. The Ahuroa road is a high risk asset of the Auckland Council. All these issues would be resolved with road sealing.

The Auckland Council must take accountability for the public health and safety risk to the Ahuroa Community with regard the Ahuroa road. This risk is mitigated by sealing the Ahuroa road.

From the Local Government Act:

101B
The Ahuroa Community could approach the Minister:

258F

Penny, do you know what the plan is for the new targeted Transport Levy rate? Is Ahuroa likely to get a share of the funds to which it contributes?

I have copied the original email recipients as we expect replies from the Local Rodney Board, Auckland Council and Auckland Transport in an open, transparent and democratic manner. Each of these organisations has accountability to this matter.

Lastly, are you happy for us to publish your replies on the public Ahuroa Grapevine site as this fact finding mission is supported by the Ahuroa community.

Thanks

Glen

Further response from Phelan

From: “Phelan Pirrie – Rodney” Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz
Date: 17 October 2015 at 10:08:39 NZDT
To: Glen Ashton glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz
Cc: Ahuroa Electronic Grapevine admin@ahuroa.co.nz
Subject: Re: Ahuroa road sealing

Hi Glen,

I have removed the various CEO’s and Mayor off this email.

The $10million was done at the same time as the transport levy, if the levy had not been put in place we wouldn’t have got the $10million if that makes sense. We also got an additional $2 million for footpaths and there were other transport projects that would have been cut had the levy not gone ahead. It was an unattractive option but in many ways the council was hamstrung by the government who refused to contemplate a toll system for Auckland despite a majority of Aucklanders saying they wanted one to pay for road projects. A toll would have raised considerably more money than the levy over time an allowed for money to be reallocated to projects such as road sealing.

There is no funding from NZTA for local AT managed roads for sealing or otherwise. I also don’t believe there will be a cent from The Ministry of Health they are struggling to fund hospitals, the idea that things will go back to what happened 20 years ago is wishful thinking in my opinion. This sort of ‘outside’ funding no longer exists and I would assume that given the billions being poured into state highways around Auckland would not see this situation change any time soon from NZTA. The scale of transport investment both by council and central government is massive and growing, it is likely that more money will be announced from central government next year, but this money is to address the critical issues along major arterial routes and in areas where there are housing developments with thousands of new houses being built.

I completely appreciate the frustration of people on unsealed roads but Auckland is under huge growth pressures and has limited options to fund the infrastructure given governments refusal to allow motorway tolls. Prioritisation is inevitable.

We will obviously continue to advocate for more money for road sealing and the next chance to increase this sum is in 2018 with the LTP budgets are revised.

Like I said previously we expect to have a breakdown of what happens to people rates soon and this will provide some clarity.

Some of the investment made in our area are not immediately clear but we have the largest areas of regional parks which we get to enjoy almost to ourselves outside the peak summer season, plus the considerable road network attracts a lot of funding, there’s also stormwater and sewage infrastructure that was woefully underfunded when we were in Rodney District Council, many sewage plants have been operating without consents, 10’s of millions have been poured into these areas over the last few years and Auckland Council reverses the trend of underinvestment from a cash strapped RDC. Anyway, as I said, until I see complete figures I’m reluctant to debate the issue because it’s just cherry picking figures or speculation on what might be happening.

Cheers

Phelan

Phelan Pirrie
Elected Member | Chair; Transport, Planning & Infrastructure Committee.
Rodney Local Board – Auckland Council
Mobile: 021 837 167
Web: https://www.facebook.com/pirriephelan

Additional comment in response to the above from our Local Members

Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2015 08:32:24 +1300
Subject: Re: Ahuroa road sealing – further reply from Phelan Pirrie
From: brian mahon <brianjmahon@googlemail.com>
To: Ahuroa Grapevine <AhuroaGrapevine@gmail.com>

What right does he have to remove CEOs and Mayor when the initial letter was sent to them also.

Oh we have regional parks do we?? wow does he realise where we live, we really don’t get a lot of use from parks!

Response from Phelan, reply from Glen

From: Glen Ashton <glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz>
To: ‘Phelan Pirrie – Rodney’ <Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>
Cc: ‘Councillor Penny Webster’ <Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Mayor Len Brown’ <Len.Brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘David Warburton (AT)’ <David.Warburton@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Greg Edmonds (AT)’ <Greg.Edmonds@aucklandtransport.govt.nz>, ‘Stephen Town’ <Stephen.Town@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Dean Kimpton’ <Dean.Kimpton@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz>, ‘Ahuroa Electronic Grapevine’ <admin@ahuroa.co.nz>
Subject: RE: Ahuroa road sealing
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2015 22:31:15 +1300

Phelan

Very informative reply. Thankyou. As you are aware this is an Ahuroa community matter and your reply will be on the Ahuroa Grapevine web site. The advantage is that we can coordinate the opinion of the community in a well-supported response.

It is good to know the Rodney Local Board are pushing for road sealing funding. I was aware of the unsealed road priority band.

Do you know if the unsealed road priority band gets updated with newer traffic statistics as Ahuroa Road certainly has increased traffic volumes? That would move Ahuroa Road up the priority.

Was the $10 million for three years decided before or after the new targeted rate transport levy? If it is after, then the new sealing allocation for Rodney is just a pittance compared to the rate amount collected from Rodney. Almost all of Rodney has no public transport so the Super City and Auckland Transport are obviously diverting the funds elsewhere.

Do you know if NZ Transit Authority can be approached for funding because they use Ahuroa Road as a traffic diversion from the State Highway when there are accidents?

The rate for services debate will be very interesting if we can transparently see where funds are allocated.

We have yet to hear from the Mayor’s office, Auckland Council or Auckland Transport. It seems ludicrous that Auckland Council can budget for many discretionary expenses in the Super City while most of the Auckland country ratepayers do not have adequate basic services. Certainly not a fair system or allocation model.

Thanks
Glen Ashton


A reply was received today in response to Gary Ashton’s open letter (http://www.ahuroa.nz/project/ahuroa-road-sealing/) from Phelan Pirie, Elected Member | Chair; Transport, Planning & Infrastructure Committee, Rodney Local Board – Auckland Council.

We committed to sharing any replies (received at the Grapevine) from the emailed group directly with our readers, so below is the first of these.

On 14/10/15 3:35 PM, Phelan Pirie (Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz) – Rodney wrote:
Hi Glen,

Just to address the road sealing issue.

I share your frustration.

The Local Board advocated strongly during the Long Term Plan drafting for an additional $10 million per year for 10 years for road sealing.

As I am sure you are aware there are 860km of unsealed roads in Auckland, 78% of these are in Rodney and we felt the only way we would get on top of the most pressing ones was to get a substantial increase in funding.

Unfortunately we only received $10million for three years which falls well short of what is required.

Ahuroa Road is currently sitting at number 12 on the list (https://at.govt.nz/media/736578/Seal-extensions-banded-list-September-2014.pdf), the money allocated will get the first six roads on this list done before 2018.

In 2018 we get another chance at making the case for increased funding for road sealing and I sincerely hope that we are able to build on the increased funding we got this year and that we can complete more of the ‘red band’ roads over the following years – some of which are shorter that the top ones.

We also hope that Auckland Transport will consider a different type of road for some rural roads that would be cheaper thus spreading the budget further however to date we have not been able to get any traction on this at all.

As far as ‘value for money’ with rates goes, we have been requesting this information for some time to allow ratepayers to better understand exactly what they are getting, we hope that this information will be available in the new year if not before. I look forward to seeing this information as it will provide some transparency and allow a more informed debate about what we get for our rates.

Regards

Phelan

Phelan Pirrie
Elected Member | Chair; Transport, Planning & Infrastructure Committee.
Rodney Local Board – Auckland Council
Mobile: 021 837 167
Web: https://www.facebook.com/pirriephelan

Local Response to initial post

On 13/10/15 6:00 PM, Patricia Morgan wrote:
I totally agree with your sentiments and recently wrote a letter myself saying what did we get for the rates we pay – nothing.  Well done – let’s hope it generates some response from one and all and especially Auckland Road Transport.

Patricia Morgan <patriciamorgan@xtra.co.nz>


On 13/10/15 12:09 PM, Debbie Pryce wrote:
Well said Glen, couldn’t agree with you more. We are relatively new to the area, having lived here for the past 16 months. In this short space of time, we’ve certainly noticed the increase in traffic with all the building construction going on in the area, as well as the volume of traffic when there is an incident that affects the motorway.

As my children attend school elsewhere, we also contribute to the increased traffic on Ahuroa Road and have reported the worsening condition of the road to Auckland Transport. My husband and daughter were involved in an accident on Ahuroa Road earlier this year, which thankfully did not result in any injury, but his car was written off. The unsealed road certainly does not prevent motorists from speeding or staying on the right side of the road. In fact, it seems to encourage speedsters to ‘test their skills’…

I certainly look forward to hearing Auckland Council/Transport’s response to the letter.

Regards
Debbie Pryce (Trevor Pryce <pryce266@gmail.com>)

Original Letter from Glen

The following letter was circulated on 13th October 2015, by Glen Ashton (glen.ashton@xtra.co.nz), sent to Phelan Pirrie (Phelan.Pirrie@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz), Penny Webster (Penny.Webster@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz), Len Brown (len.brown@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz), David Warburton (david.warburton@aucklandtransport.govt.nz), Greg Edmonds (greg.edmonds@aucklandtransport.govt.nz), Stephen Town (Stephen.Town@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz), Dean Kimpton (Dean.Kimpton@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz) and cc’d to the Ahuroa Grapevine.

Hi Phelan (& Penny & those with influence and power)

I note you are Chair of Transport, Planning & Infrastructure Committee.

As you are probably aware, Ahuroa has been sadly neglected ever since Rodney was amalgamated into the “Super City”. There are very few services:

  • No sewerage
  • No stormwater
  • No water supply
  • No libraries or culture
  • No parks or reserves
  • No sports facilities
  • No public transport
  • No footpaths
  • No street lights
  • Railway with no station (track to Britomart)
  • Unsealed roads

There has been no infrastructure development since 2009. Obviously our local rates are being diverted into other parts of the Super City.

On the above list, the most important item to the Ahuroa residents is the unsealed roads, in particular the link between Ahuroa and Puhoi, Ahuroa Road. Under Rodney Council this road was being sealed at about 1-2 Km per year, now under Auckland Council, nothing.

As Ahuroa (and Puhoi) has become populated (school roll gone from 22 to 75 pupils) traffic on Ahuroa Road has dramatically increased. Also when State Highway becomes blocked with an accident, Ahuroa Road is used as a detour for all main north / south traffic. This has happened twice this year, causing major chaos. Now that we are paying a targeted transport levy in our rates there should be more funding for new road sealing? Do you know if Ahuroa Road will be sealed in the near future or will this “extra” rate be used yet again in other parts of Auckland?

Legally, I believe we deserve better infrastructure:

AhuroaRoads

If there is going to be NO progress for Ahuroa, then I would suggest that our rates be about 10% of our Super City counterparts. That would be fair.

I have come to realise that it is our Elected Politicians and not the Auckland Council staff who decides on our rates and infrastructure development and it is our local representatives to whom we should communicate.

We have an “Ahuroa grapevine” residents email, so I have copied them in on this email. I am sure that the community will be most interested in your comments.

I would expect all recipients of this email to comment back to the Ahuroa community on this important matter. The Super City is not working for us!

Regards

Glen – 0274 906 889