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  • Andrew von Dadelszen

TAURANGA CITY - WHAT IS STILL GOING WRONG

All comments regarding Local Government are my personal views, and do not purport to represent the views of our Regional Council – of which I am an elected representative.

I have no problem with the replacement of our elected Tauranga City Councillors with appointed Commissioners – We had an extremely dysfunctional Council with the then elected members (including the Mayor) acting very parochially, with no understanding of the meaning of governance. Each had his/her own agenda, and they weren’t thinking “What is best for our city”. The key will be wheher we get back to democracy in 2022.


The new Commissioners came in with a “clean slate”, but unfortunately they too haven’t addressed Tauranga City Council’s biggest issue – that of a totally siloed staff who have built a bureaucracy that suits staff, but was never “fit for purpose”. Staff numbers have ballooned – as has Council expenditure.


For me, these appointed Commissioners should have first addressed (before anything else) the bloated bureaucracy and siloed thinking that has been synonymous of Tauranga City Council for nearly two decades. This is a basic requirement of Local Government (see Section 17A of the Local Government Act 2002). The blow-torch needs to be aimed at "efficiency and effectiveness" - something that has been missing for far too long.

You only have to look at the mess that Tauranga City staff have made of our city roading infrastructure to understand the problem. The “Greerton solution” is just one example of the mess that transport planners at City centre have made. Solutions for 15th Avenue/Turret Road was also piecemeal, and never addressed the underlying issues. Now our current unelected Commissioners have allowed Transport Planners to front a risky (in my personal view) Cameron Road upgrade.

In my view, our city doesn’t have a substantial congestion issue – I am not saying it isn’t there, but it is exacerbated by Central Government not adequately funding our state highways. Cameron Road is directly affected by lack of a State Highway 29 solution. Congestion builds at Tauriko, then at Barkes Corner, and is further exacerbated by the ridiculous failure that is Greerton. This builds down Cameron Road, and our Commissioners are committed to a 3 stage redevelopment and upgrade of Cameron Road.

Stage I UPGRADE - from the CBD to 17th Avenue Stage I includes retaining the existing four car lanes, and adding two bus lanes, as well as a two way cycling lane on the eastern side of Cameron Road – plus, of course, pedestrian access on both sides. The bus lanes will initially be for peak-time traffic only, but a condition of the Central Government (taxpayer funded) CIF funding of $45m is that within 10 years these busways will need to become permanently bus-only.

I was opposed to the original design (that reduced the thorough fare to only one car-lane each way), but now support this revised proposal. I considered adding lights at 3rd, 6th and 9th Avenue ridiculous – thinking that these will just permanently reduce Cameron Road to gridlock. I remain concerned, but will give the project design the benefit of my doubt on this – but blaming Central Government for insisting on overly zealous road safety measures (valiant aims at protecting cyclists and pedestrians). I see this as just frustrates our commuters even more – putting everyone at higher risk because of impatience.

STAGE II – Cameron Road - From 17th Avenue to Barkes Corner Stage II is scheduled to start in June 2022, but the $160m cost is currently unfunded. This is, in fact the more difficult section, and runs from 17th Avenue to Barkes Corner. The problem is that the road reserve is constrained, and Tauranga City Council say that it is unlikely that they can put a funding case that would include property purchase to mitigate the width issue. It also includes the political football of reversing the previously disastrous Greerton upgrade.

TCC says that it is their hope that they can go “back to back” on Stages I & II.

STAGE III RUNS FROM BARKES CORNER TO TAURIKO This Stage isn’t currently costed, but is expected to cost at least another $140m. The problem is also coming into Tauranga (via State Highway 2 – from both the North (Omokoroa) and the East, along Hewletts Road (access to the Port) - both on the head of our Labour Ministers. The State Highways are congesting the entry into our city. We rely on our appointed Commissioners to link with Ministers to get these issues resolved. The problem of course is that both Tauranga and Bay of Plenty Electorates have long been National Party strongholds, and (call me cynical) I believe it is a Labour strategy to propagate the disenfranchisement of these two electorates.

RACECOURSE & GOLF COURSE MUST REMAIN AS GREENSPACE I also believe that our four appointed Commissioners are showing no understanding of the overwhelming community feeling that our “green space” is non-negotiable. To even consider stealing (yes, stealing from our community) the Racecourse and Golf Club for Kāinga Ora Housing (social housing) is an outrage.

Yes, we recognise that we want growth – but only sustainable growth. Stop destroying the structure of our city, based on the failed ideology of the left.

In my view, the biggest mistake that our four appointed Commissioners have made is in supporting the theft of more than $1 billion of ratepayers money in the Three Waters fiasco, but also not holding staff to financial account. TCC staff are incredibly siloed , and this must be addressed with urgency.

ISSUES FACING COMMISSIONERS § Three Waters theft § Tauranga City Council’s bloated bureaucracy unaddressed § Greenspace – stealing Racecourse & Golf Club for social housing § Cameron Road upgrade issues - while mostly addressed, activists will continue to undermine

The optics for our four Commissioners are extremely disturbing. If (as they say) they are only here until October 2022, then time is against them for leaving a positive legacy. All four of these issues don’t look good for a positive legacy. All four issues need a quick reversal if they want to keep faith with ratepayers.

As Chair of Public Transport at the Regional Council I need to (and want to) work closely with our City Commissioners on all of these issues. I am sure that all four Commissioners are well intentioned – and I want to help. But…

Our City needs them to do better – both for their credibility and for Tauranga City’s future. Otherwise history will not record their legacy at all kindly.


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