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Former Mayor Plays Pork Barrel Politics

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ISSUED BY AFFORDABLE AUCKLAND

Former Mayor Plays Pork Barrel Politics

Affordable Auckland Leader Stephen Berry has accused former North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams of playing pork-barrel politics following comments today that North Shore is being “short-changed” by events following the North Shore’s amalgamation into the Super City. Berry says, “This is a classic case of a politician trying to get more public money for their region of interest without looking at the big picture.”

Berry is also a North Shore resident and would also like to see more events occur in the region but doesn’t believe trying to attract more public money from an ever-dwindling Council coffer is the way to achieve this. “It is true that events such the Devonport Wine and Food Festival have disappeared as they became commercially unviable. Pumping more public money into an event that cannot pay its own bills should never be regarded as the correct solution. Surely if there were genuinely sufficient demand for such an event, it would be commercially self-supporting and should find ways to be so if it wishes to continue.”

“Auckland Council finances are now so dire that it is becoming difficult to balance the books and maintain the must-haves without also splurging on nice to haves. At the end of this financial year, Council debt will reach $6.7 billion. If the Council continues borrowing at current levels ($1.2 billion this year), then total debt will exceed $10 billion by the end of this Council term. Current rates revenues match revenues from borrowing with 19% of rates revenue being spent on servicing the interest on the debt. Fiscal restraint needs to begin today!”

Mr. Berry believes more self-sustaining and commercially viable events would happen organically, through community voluntarism if the costs of complying with the myriad of Council rules were not so prohibitive. “During the last election I spoke with an organiser of the Grey Lynn Festival who claimed much of the grant the Festival receives from the Waitemata Local Board is spent complying with rules requiring waste management plans from the Council. The Festival barely breaks even. Wouldn’t it be better if we stopped putting Council money down a bottomless pit that funds the costs of endless bureaucratic rules?”

“I love living on the North Shore and think it would be great to see more events for the community. Let’s achieve that through reduced council compliance costs rather than mortgaging our children’s futures.”

Ends

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