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RAM Releases Open Letter To Mayors

An Open Letter without prejudice to:

Mayor of Rodney District Council

Chair of Auckland Mayoral Forum

Dear Mr John Law

Re: RAM – Residents Action Movement request for information

On behalf of RAM-Residents Action Movement and as an ARC Auckland candidate, I am astonished to learn that a Mayor of an Auckland territorial authority, that is, yourself as Mayor of Rodney District Council, did not present a public submission to the Consultative Hearing Panel regarding ALPURT B2 as a toll road.

Not only do I find such an admission by a public servant undemocratic and inexcusable regarding such an important matter, but one that shows clear disregard for the Land Transport Management Act 2003, Schedule 2, Part 1, Consultation Principles.

It is clear that Mayors of Auckland’s territorial authorities have conjointly agreed NOT to take part in the recent public submission process held by Transit New Zealand, the Consultation Hearing Panel, and the Northern Gateway Alliance regarding the ALPURT B2 project and tolling SH1.

From what I can gather, Auckland’s Mayors and Transit NZ have AGREED from around March 2003, to push for ALPURT B2, Penlink and the Eastern Transport Corridor under “Project Specific Tolls.”

I understand that you abstained from voting on the resolutions put to the Regional Land Transport Committee on 24 March 2003.

Then, the concept of “Project Specific Tolls” appears to have transferred to the Auckland Regional Land Transport Strategy 2003 document – with little, if any, public consultation.

It appears that democratic principles have collapsed in relation to Auckland territorial authorities, thereby minimalising open governance, transparency and accountability.

Not only is the Mayoral Forum and Transit NZ seemingly above reproach, but so too has the Auckland Regional Council when recently endorsing tolling SH1 between Orewa and Puhoi (ALPURT B2).

* * * * *

It is in the public’s best interests to know how ARC representatives on the Strategic Policy Committee voted on 19 August 2004: selected motions/ absent G. Bull / Council officers in attendance.)

In an amendment moved by addition (Councillor Walbran)

a) That the Council calls on the Government to fully phase out the diversion of fuel taxes to the consolidated fund and instead apply all such taxes to upgrading New Zealand’s roading network.

b) That the Council notes that current economic surpluses present a rare opportunity to achieve this reform .

For (Burrill, Coney, Lee, Smith, Walbran (5).

Against (Barnett, Bassett, Bradley, Glenn, Harland, Little, Sherry (7) LOST

That Council supports in this instance the construction of ALPURT B2 as a toll road on condition that:

i) Tolling is clearly demonstrated as the only way to complete the project within the timeframe anticipated by the Regional Land Transport Strategy 2003

(Councillors Coney, Lee, Smith and Walbran voted against the resolution). CARRIED

(Two further amendments are worth mentioning at this point) -

a) that these Council decisions be made without prejudice and that the issue of tolling as ARC policy had yet to be resolved (Bradley). LOST

b) that the ARC develop a policy on tolling of roads in the Auckland region in the process of which the public is consulted (Coney).

(For: Coney, Glenn, Lee, Smith, Walbran)

(Against: Barnett, Bassett, Bradley, Burrill, Harland, Little, Sherry ) LOST

* * * *

For your information,

RAM’s Citizen’s Manifesto states:

DEMOCRACY

1. Every citizen should have the right to a real say in how society is governed. But the ARC has been captured by corporate and bureaucratic interests. That must be changed. A RAM-led ARC will rely on practical expansion of democracy to improve the quality of life of all citizens.

3. When important new matters arise, a RAM-led ARC will convene a Citizen’s Assembly that includes citizen’s organisations plus corporate lobbyists. This will allow interactive community influence at the centre of ARC decision-making, while promoting transparency in dealings with the corporate sector. This expansion of democracy will deliver sustainable solutions to the region’s problems.

TRANSPORT

10. A RAM-led ARC will lobby central government for a greater share of the region’s petrol tax.

12. Toll roads are being promoted as ‘fair to everybody.’ In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Roads have traditionally been part of the public domain, but tolls commercialise them and open the way to effective private control. Meanwhile, business escapes paying tolls through GST refunds, tax write-offs and cost-plus pricing, thereby shifting the burden onto others. So tolls unfairly favour business. A RAM-led ARC will oppose toll roads.

* * * *

CONCLUSION

I am presently writing an open letter to the Minister of Transport, Minister of Justice, Minister of Local Government, Minister Responsible for Auckland Issues, Minister Responsible for Urban Environment, as well as Leaders of Political Parties requesting that

- the Minister of Transport disallows and/or revokes the Consultation Hearing Panel/associates application for an Order in Council making ALPURT B2 a toll road, and

- that construction on extending ALPURT B2 continues without delay and without tolls – using existing fuel (regional) taxes if needed - as requested by most public submitters.

If the Minister of Transport’s respons e is unsatisfactory , I will be contacting the Office of the Ombudsmen on behalf of RAM.

Please feel free to make further contact should clarification be required.

Yours faithfully

Elaine West – ARC Auckland candidate

RAM – Residents Action Movement

09 360 2771 021 11 94 837

elainewest@paradise.net.nz

_______________________________________________________________________________________

-----Original Message-----
From: Vicki Shanley [ mailto:vshanley@rodney.govt.nz ]
Sent: Monday, 13 September 2004 4:29 p.m.
To: Elaine West
Subject: RE: Elaine West

Dear Elaine,

Sorry for the delay in responding to your email.

I am not prepared to authorise the release of the report to the Mayoral Forum you refer to in your e-mail below. As you note in your e-mail the Mayoral Forum is a non-statutory body and as a consequence its meetings are not subject to the same requirements of the Local Government and Meetings Act as normal Council meetings. I therefore wish to maintain the unique status of the Forum and restrict the availability of its agendas, minutes and reports to enable a free and frank exchange of opinions between its members.

Rodney District Council continues to work with Transit New Zealand, under their joint Memorandum of Understanding, to expedite the construction of ALPURT B2 as early as possible. Through this agreement, the Council, as a key stakeholder in the project, is consulted directly and regularly by Transit on all matters affecting ALPURT B2. This working relationship with Transit allows the Council position on all matters regarding ALPURT B2, and the tolling of the project, to be heard first hand by Transit. This direct consultative relationship has proven itself to be as effective, if not moreso, than the making of a public submission to the Transit tolling panel.

Apologies Elaine.

Kind regards

John Law

-----Original Message-----
From: Elaine West [ mailto:elainewest@paradise.net.nz ]
Sent: Tuesday, 24 August 2004 1:07 p.m.
To: Vicki Shanley
Subject: Elaine West

Att: Mr John Law

Chair: Auckland Mayoral Forum

Mayor: Rodney District Council

Dear Mr Law

1. RAM – Residents Action Movement understands that you are Chair of the Auckland Mayoral Forum.

We acknowledge that while the Mayoral Forum is not a statutory body it has influence in particular areas of decision-making processes pertaining to the Auckland region.

We are interested in Auckland transport issues, among other things, and are requesting a copy of a Mayoral Forum report used as a basis for input into the Regional Land Transport Strategy update: “Priority Projects for the Auckland Region” circa February 2002.

2. Also, may we have a copy of Rodney District Council’s submission to Transit NZ, 17 August 2004 re: ALPURT B2.

Thank you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours faithfully

Elaine West

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