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RAM's meeting with the ARC

RAM media release 7.6.04

RAM meets the ARC

A packed hall greeted three ARC councillors at last night's meeting hosted by RAM - Residents Action Movement.

Backdropped by large posters saying "RAM the ARC" and "RAM - Political voice of the Rates Revolt", ARC councillors Sandra Coney, Brian Smith and Ian Bradley addressed the overflow crowd.

ARC chair Gwen Bull had to cancel at the last moment because of urgent family reasons.

Sandra Coney spoke of "dysfunctional structures" imposed by the government within which the ARC had to operate.

Both Sandra Coney and Brian Smith backed audience calls for the ARC to reimpose a business differential, which was axed last year, fueling massive rises in homeowner rates. There were differences over the level at which such a differential should be set.

The whole audience supported the restoration of a differential, reflected in this resolution which passed unanimously:

"This meeting asks that the 'RAM variation', which includes a business differential of more than 5, become an additional option in the ARC draft plan. We note that RAM is willing to work closely with the ARC on the final wording of the 'RAM variation'."

Ian Bradley said he had recently voted in the ARC to continue with a draft rating policy which didn't contain any differential. Brian Smith noted that the ARC's own public survey had shown overwhelming public support for a differential, but an ARC majority had voted otherwise.

Everyone at the meeting was critical of the undemocratic methods adopted by the ARC's ruling faction to push through a rating policy opposed by the vast majority of the region's citizens.

This was reflected in another resolution, passed by popular acclaim, which read:

"This meeting asks that a People's Assembly, embracing a wide range of grassroots organisations, be convened by the ARC to debate the draft plan before it's voted on by councillors on 28 June. We note that RAM is offering to help the ARC get such a People's Assembly off the ground."

Everyone in the audience supported RAM's policy of shifting a large slice of motorway funds to public transport, which alone can fix Auckland's car chaos.

There were cheers of support when RAM spokesperson Grant Morgan said a RAM-led ARC would stop the Eastern Motorway, estimated to cost $4 billion. Instead, RAM is looking at spending one-third of this amount to buy 5,000 buses and run them cheap or for free in all built-up areas.

By comparison, Stagecoach now has under 750 buses on Auckland streets.

"This sort of visionary public transport strategy could fix Auckland's gridlock in a fairly short time," said Grant Morgan. "But what's lacking at present is the centralised political will to carry it out. So it's vital that we RAM the ARC in this October's council elections."

The three ARC councillors at the meeting acknowledged that they were left in no doubts about the opinions of the large crowd.

Four analysis articles which expand on Grant Morgan's speeches at the meeting are being sent by separate emails. You are welcome to run them as "opinion" pieces - if you wish to shorten them, I would appreciate seeing your edited draft first.

Photos of the meeting are available - just contact me, state your preferred image format, and I will email them to you.

RAM PROTESTS

RAM is holding placard protests at the ARC's first two "consultation" meetings on its draft annual plan. Details:

TAKAPUNA 6.30pm Tues 13 April at Takapuna War Memorial Hall, The Strand.

CENTRAL CITY 6.30pm Wed 14 April at ARC head office, Vodafone House, 21 Pitt St, Auckland Central.

For more information, contact:

Grant Morgan RAM spokesperson gcm@actrix.gen.nz


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