Now the gloves come off

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    Councillor for Waitemata and Gulf Mike Lee says he is appalled at the decision to hit Waiheke commuters with further parking charges at Matiatia.  Cr Lee said he was deeply concerned that, as the elected Councillor for the inner city and Hauraki Gulf ward he was never consulted or even told of the plan – and neither were Waiheke commuters.

    “These charges were not signalled or consulted on in the recent Council Long Term Plan, nor are they referred to in the Public Transport Management Plan currently out for submission.” 

    He says he is also disappointed that the Waiheke Local Board allowed itself to be ‘manipulated’ as he put it by Auckland Transport managers into going along with the scheme.  “Not only going along with the scheme but board chair Cath Handley was unwise enough to attempt to justify the new charges. This is justifying the unjustifiable.  A local board’s first duty is to represent the interests of the local community – not council management and the transport CCO.”

    Thirdly, the Ferry Users Group is quite right – this is not about sorting out holiday congestion, he says. “The new charges will hit working Waiheke commuters hard. The daily commute, especially through the winter, when people go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, can be a mission anyway. After paying wharf taxes (which AT consistently refuses to publicly account for), the recently imposed regional fuel tax and now parking charges, this is the final straw for working commuters.”

    “What I find really troubling is that when there was a live Waiheke break away proposal before the Local Government Commission, Auckland Council and its CCOs took a noticeably ‘gently-gently’ approach to Waiheke – even impressing the Local Government Commission with a Waiheke Governance Pilot (devolution) scheme purporting to give the Waiheke community more self-government,” he says.

    “The focus of this supposed delegation of powers interestingly was Matiatia.”

    However, he says, once the breakaway application was finally declined by the Commission, the mask came off, the home of the former local board chair was raided and he was dragged before the courts on dubious grounds and the Sheriff of Nottingham style of local government was back with a vengeance. 

    “And now this. Free commuter parking at Matiatia has been in place forever and free park-and-ride such as for the North Shore Busway is the hall mark of an efficient public transport system.

    It is rather ironic that this new exercise in unbridled power is happening at of all places… Matiatia,” said Cr Lee.

    Few of us are in much doubt that somewhere in the corridors of power, someone murmured soothingly that the effects of a row of parking ticket vending machines beside a cracked and overgrown pavement serving a ferry terminal where six million passenger trips begin and end every year would be less than minor.  

    In some ways more disturbing to our community as a bijou visitor destination and a working population is Auckland Transport’s other summer diversion – the resource consent process to spend up large from fuel tax on the Downtown ferry basin.

    The project as it affects Waiheke’s vital ferry link doesn’t get any better for closer inspection. The Tonkin and Taylor design provides no relief whatsoever for Waiheke’s windswept passenger queues and will provide only a single extra berth on what’s available at present.  

    Passengers negotiating  200 metres of wharf above new open air herringbone berths on Queen’s Wharf will queue on the gangways down to three floating pontoon boarding berths. This will, says the report, free up stretches of unsheltered, ‘shared’ access space for ‘the public’ to mill around and patronise container pop-up food stalls.  There will be “better signage and wayfinding” for this increased public space.

    The report says firmly that “The effects to ferry passengers are deemed to be less than minor with regards to passenger flow and throughput during construction.

     “Access to properties near the works sites will be maintained throughout the construction period for both pedestrians and vehicles.” • Liz Waters

    Public feedback on the ferry basin consent for 85-89 Quay Street and Queens Wharf closes on 17 December and can be accessed on https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/have-your-say in the section on notified resource consent applications. The Quay Street and Downtown access consents also have important implications for Waiheke residents and businesses.

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