Richard Northey: Waitemat-a Local Board Chair Richard Northey July 2020

We all need to remind ourselves that the COVID-19 pandemic has not entirely gone away.

They are likely to keep trying out best ways of doing this in Queen Street and elsewhere to make streets safer for all road users. We have advocated to make Collingwood Street safer by banning right hand turns from Ponsonby Road. Most of Freeman’s Bay and the Central City will have a 30km/h speed limit from 1 July because of its high accident rate.

Most of our work and daily activities will still be done from our homes. I have been delighted to get back to the YMCA to resume my fitness programme. I can still be contacted at 021 534 546 or and the staff at

The Waitemat-a Local Board members continue to hear from people concerned about the future of the Leys Institute Library and Gymnasium, including meeting David Britten, conductor of the famous Leys Orchestra. The Board made an urgent decision to lease premises for the library at 14 Jervois Road for three years. I was delighted to be present when the Leys Little Library opened, with the same hours as the Old Leys had.

Council staff are researching what to do with the Leys buildings and how best to restore them and the services they provided. This is complex work, which means the options for the future of the Leys will not be presented to us until our business meeting in August or September. We very much hope that these lovely iconic buildings can be restored to their former glory for library services and other public use.

We have been engaging actively with young people and others in the community about our proposed Waitemat-a Local Board Plan. I’d like to thank everyone who shared their vision for Waitemat-a with us by giving us your ideas; these have helped to shape our draft plan. At our 16 June Board meeting we were gratified to formally approve and make public our draft Plan, which we have been steadily working on since our election last October.

This draft identifies six major outcomes: Maori Identity; Connected Communities; High Quality Urban Design; Environmental Protection; Safe and Diverse Transport; and Economic Prosperity. Throughout it there is an emphasis on recovery and resilience from the impacts of COVID-19 and a commitment to act on combating the climate emergency. Next, all those living or working in Waitemat-a will be asked to have their say on our draft Local Board Plan which sets our proposed strategic direction for the next three years. Consultation on this Plan will commence 13 July and continue until 13 August.

Our 16 June meeting passed a comprehensive motion from Alex Bonham on protecting the biodiversity of the Hauraki Gulf. We also requested an investigation about the appropriate location and balanced signage for colonial era monuments.

Auckland Council’s proposed ‘emergency budget’, its response to the financial impacts of COVID-19, is to be decided by the Governing Body this month. Because COVID-19’s impacts have reduced Council income by $525 million, even with a 3.5% rate rise there probably will be substantial cuts to the infrastructure projects, maintenance and community services provided by the Council.

We are concerned that cuts may result in the lengthy postponement or cancellation of the Ponsonby Park project at 254 Ponsonby Road and of the restoration of the Leys Institute and in cuts in valued Council services like the opening hours of libraries and pools. Our Board intends to strongly oppose most proposed cuts to community, environmental, climate change and transport safety services and in favour of a temporary increase in Council borrowing to fund them. Fortunately, the Ponsonby and Grey Lynn Community Centres are entering the second year of three-year funding agreements and their grants will not be affected.

We are very much aware that some people will find it difficult to pay their rates this year. However, Council has developed policies for postponement and rebates to help, and people in this situation should not hesitate to contact Council to apply for this relief. The Ministry of Social Development has finally taken over from Council in providing food parcels and advice for those who have unexpectedly lost their income. (RICHARD NORTHEY)

Contact Richard Northey, Chair of the Waitemata Local Board,,