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Auckland Mayor Len Brown throws policy to the wolves

Auckland Mayor Len Brown throws policy to the wolves

Media Release 8 July 2016:


Speakers at a Council committee yesterday (Thursday 7 July 2016) were appalled when barely minutes after they had left the chamber, Mayor Brown issued a press release announcing his decision to review Council’s weed management policy.

Hana Blackmore of the independent Weed Management Advisory (WMA), and one of a number of presenters expressing their concerns about the expansion of chemicals on Auckland’s streets and parks said they had been manipulated and blindsided by the Mayor.

“We believed we were finally being given an opportunity to be heard after the debacle of the shutdown of debate over annual plan budget cuts” she said.

“But Mayor Brown’s plan had obviously been prepared well in advance and he was not listening to anything anyone said at that meeting. It was discourteous and disrespectful.”

Blackmore said that all the concerns expressed yesterday by the four speakers and several councillors, centred on health and budgets – neither of which has been acknowledged by Mayor Brown.

“If he had been listening he would have clearly understood that we have no issue with the policy itself, but with its lack of implementation three years after it was adopted.”

Serious questions were raised by Hana Blackmore in her presentation about the huge hike in the cost of vegetation control on the streets after Auckland Transport took over contracts from the cities.

She illustrated the impact with a simple before and after chart that tracked the price of contracts and supposed comparative cost analyses from Auckland Transport that she said are currently being used to frighten Councillors into believing non-chemical alternatives cannot be afforded.

“It was apparent that Mayor Brown was disturbed by the information, but he makes no mention of this” said Blackmore. “Nor did he acknowledge my appeal for Council to consider the possibility that the simple act of passing vegetation control to Transport has tripled the price because of the number of contractors and sub-contractors hands the money has to pass through.”

She asked that serious consideration be given to removing vegetation control from Auckland Transport Maintenance and returning it to direct contracts with Council via Parks.

“Potential savings in the millions of dollars could then be used to implement integrated non-chemical vegetation control across the entire city,” she said.

Blackmore said it is hugely frustrating that instead of genuine investigation and positive actions that could finally remove all chemicals from the city everyone is now going to have to waste time, energy and scarce resources in reviewing and trying to fix a Policy that’s not broken.

“Even worse, Mayor Brown has handed responsibility for doing this review to the very officers who have not only failed to make any progress in implementing this Policy, but have actively sought to nullify it” she said.

“This baby weed management policy has barely drawn breath let alone been allowed to crawl, but Mayor Brown yesterday didn’t just throw it out with the bathwater he threw it to the wolves.”


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