Sir Bob in Fine Form Again

I laughed when I saw this article: Link.

Bob Jones is saying what he thinks needs to happen in Christchurch.   And he’s right I reckon.  As he is most of the time.  He’s a thinker is Bob, and he’s thought about this issue.  much more so than the planning idiots in Christchurch Council.

This bit made me laugh:

Thus, the city’s buildings were owned by local hobbyists and sentimentalists, as is the case with our provincial cities.

Blunt but on the money.

His idea of very low rise offices and shops (shops on the ground floor, offices on 1st level) with lots of gardens and light in between sounds lovely.

It’ll be interesting to see how all of this unfolds…



Mayor is a Business Guru

Man, there’s just so much ammo in the Herald about the councils this morning!  This article describes the Auckland Mayor’s desire to boost the cities’ economy.  Right, now a) Is it the council’s job to create businesses or get out of the way and let the public get on with it? and b) What businesses has Len Brown and his staff run? After all, if they’re going to show us how to develop businesses, surely they’d have a string of business successes they can point to by way of examples?

Or is this just more dreaming?  At our cost?

Well read this and see what you think:

The draft strategy sets out to make Auckland more business friendly, an innovation hub of the Asia-Pacific region, internationally connected and export driven, investing in skills and a vibrant, creative world city.

Based on these principles, Mr Brown wants to create a sustainable eco economy, a Maori economic powerhouse, boost the rural and maritime economy and support a diverse ethnic economy.

The strategy says Auckland has significant advantages, such as its natural environment and diverse cultures, but there is scope to promote and build on its sports, creative and cultural experiences – and create a distinctive city brand.

The frayed-A logo used to promote Auckland is being dumped and replaced with a new brand.

Well, man that sounds like a concrete business plan doesn’t it?  Look it’s got all the important words in there: creative, vibrant, export driven, internationally connected, world city, eco economy, Maori, diverse ethnic, cultural experiences.

And if that doesn’t work, they’ll change the city’s logo.  With all that, how can we possibly fail?

Someone who might have actually run a business  has this to say:

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett is encouraged by the draft strategy, particularly the mantra of making the council more business friendly.

A council that was easy to do business with was exactly what everyone in business was looking for, he said.

Mr Barnett said that included reducing red tape and adopting a “can do” attitude towards business customers.

“If Auckland Inc is to achieve the ambitious targets set out in the draft, council and business organisations will need to work closely together,” he said.

However, Mr Barnett was concerned at the suggestion of an interventionist approach by the council’s Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development to invest in education and skills training.

“Auckland needs to develop a skilled and responsive labour force that is capable of helping Auckland businesses and firms achieve global success and the Auckland strategy targets.”

But, he warned, this wouldn’t happen if the agency set up programmes that competed against existing services.

So this is quite a different mind set.  One that basically says, “Reduce red tape and we’ll do it thanks.”


Oh Dear Auckland Council not Playing Fair

Basically the wrong mayor got elected for the government’s liking.  And he’s implementing all sorts of lefty crap that National don’t want.  So they’re doing their best to reign him in until the next set of elections.  See this article in the Herald:

Clash looms on bid to curb city’s sprawl

By Simon Collins

5:30 AM Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
High-density housing could be the way of the future.  Photo / Brett Phibbs

High-density housing could be the way of the future. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Government agencies may be heading for another clash with the new Super City – this time over Auckland’s plans to tighten limits on urban sprawl.

An inquiry into housing affordability by the Productivity Commission is looking into whether local policies aimed at encouraging more intensive housing are consistent with popular preferences for suburban sections with grass and gardens.

A separate urban technical advisory group appointed by Environment Minister Nick Smith says Auckland’s metropolitan urban limit has been too restrictive and recommends a “Government policy statement” for Auckland which the new Auckland Plan would have to comply with.

Both measures fly in the face of the new draft Auckland Plan, which would change the present metropolitan urban limit into an even tighter “rural urban boundary”.

The draft says the boundary will define the limits to growth for the next 30 years. Urban development would be banned outside the rural-urban line.

The current limit would be extended to bring in an extra 5000 to 6000ha of land around Silverdale, Westgate and south of Papakura, but 75 per cent of new housing over the next 30 years would be within the existing built-up area.

Two-thirds would be flats and other attached dwellings.

Detached houses with gardens would drop from 76 per cent of homes to 57-61 per cent by 2040.

A more “compact” city preserving green spaces around the edges is a central component of Mayor Len Brown’s vision for the city, backed by expanded public transport including a proposed underground inner-city rail loop.

But Transport Minister Steven Joyce has already refused to fund the rail loop. He also criticised “a cast-iron” limit in a newspaper article last year in which he called for planning “an Auckland that reflects the varied ways in which the people of our biggest city already choose to live”.

Auckland Council’s own submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry accepts that “at present, medium density/intensified dwellings are not favoured by families and older people”.

A commission issues paper noted research showing the city’s limit drove up land prices within and just beyond the limits and had become “an increasingly binding constraint on land supply”.

A Reserve Bank submission to the commission argues that the country “needs to ensure that land use can change relatively readily towards the most valuable use of that land”.

Dr Smith’s advisory group found that urban limits were “a blunt instrument” and could be replaced by “progressive rezoning of new urban land”.

But other state agencies, including Housing NZ and Mr Joyce’s own Transport Agency, support a “compact city”. Housing NZ’s submission says suburban sprawl is inefficient and has curbed Auckland’s productivity.

The commission will issue a final report in March.


* Maintain a green city fringe to “make Auckland appealing”.
* Promote healthy and sustainable walking, cycling and public transport instead of cars.
* Minimise infrastructure costs.

* Restricting land drives up prices, making housing unaffordable.
* Most people still want houses with gardens, not flats.
* Market would allocate land to its most valuable use.

By Simon Collins | Email Simon

This could be quite an interesting issue.  There will be a fight over this.  On the left we have those believing that compact cities where we build upwards and all use public transport is the way to go, and on the right we have those who (gasp) want to give people the choice of where and how the live, travel etc.

This is a stoush that is not going to be sorted very quickly.  And the government looks set to put a spanner in the works of the Auckland Council’s planning processes.

Auckland Council has 9% Business Approval

This article is quite timely:

Councils fail to win business backing

By Susie Nordqvist

5:30 AM Tuesday Sep 27, 2011
Auckland super city Mayor Len Brown.
Photo / Steven McNicholl

Auckland super city Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Steven McNicholl

New Zealand’s largest local authority has failed to win the backing of almost half of small businesses, who say are unhappy with the Auckland Council’s support almost a year after its inception.

The results are contained in the latest MYOB Business Monitor which surveyed 1000 small and medium business owners across 10 local government areas.

Just nine per cent of Auckland businesses said they were satisfied with Auckland Council’s support, while 43 per cent said they were not.

Dissatisfaction ranked highest on average in the North Island, with the Waikato and Taranaki Councils sharing the title of ‘least business friendly’ by businesses.

MYOB’s general manager Julian Smith said the results highlighted there was a major ‘disconnect’ between what councils were achieving and what businesses expected of them.

“Our local councils seem to be losing sight of the fact that to be successful cities, towns and regions, they must also be good places to do business, to sustain local economies, attract employment and encourage private sector investment in events, attractions and entertainment.”

Smith said the government’s decision to seize control of Auckland’s party central showed New Zealand’s largest local authority had issues meeting expectations, not just of the public, but with commercial interests engaged in the Rugby World Cup.

“With dissatisfaction growth with councils around the country, perhaps it is time to take a good look at the role of our local authorities, and see what can be done to get them working better for business,” he said.

How they rank:

Satistfied /Dissatisfied
Wellington: 21 per cent – 27 per cent

Manawatu-Wanganui: 13 per cent – 20 per cent

Christchurch: 15 per cent – 38 per cent

Otago & Southland: 10 per cent – 38 per cent

Auckland: 9 per cent – 43 per cent

Bay of Plenty: 6 per cent – 40 per cent

Taranaki: 13 per cent – 48 per cent

Northland: 11 per cent – 47 per cent

Hawkes Bay: 6 per cent – 45 per cent

Waikato: 8 per cent – 48 per cent

By Susie Nordqvist | Email Susie

Here is the link for this story in the Herald.


Well no surprise to me of course.  Businesses are basically seen by councils as income streams and nothing more.  We’re just pesky customers who get in the way of planners pipe dreams and whinge about handing over all our money for such grand visions.

Perhaps a turnaround is needed?  Perhaps council could offer business a modicum of service?

Some Common Sense on Dope

I wasn’t expecting this from Don Brash, but man, he’s right on the money in this article in the Herald:

Chasing cannabis users a waste of police, says Brash

By Audrey Young

5:30 AM Monday Sep 26, 2011
Act leader Don Brash says he has serious doubts about New Zealand's marijuana laws. Photo / Sarah Ivey


Act leader Don Brash says he has serious doubts about New Zealand’s marijuana laws. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Act leader Don Brash wants the use of cannabis decriminalised, saying too much valuable police time is taken up enforcing a law that is flouted by about 400,000 people a year.

“I’m haunted by the thought that all that police time and all those police resources could be better deployed in actually keeping us safe from real criminals intent on harming us,” he said in Pakuranga yesterday.

But instead, the law made criminals of 400,000 New Zealanders who were harming no one except arguably themselves “which is their prerogative in a free society”.

Dr Brash is yet to convince his own party of the merits of the case, a party that prides itself on being tough on crime as well as libertarian. He said it was a personal view.

Dr Brash said he had not smoked marijuana and was not advocating its use. But his personal view is expected to raise some questions in Act.

Former Police Minister and Act Epsom candidate John Banks could not be reached for comment last night.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said: “National has long held the view this would be a step in the wrong direction.”

Police Minister Judith Collins also said Act’s cannabis policy was going in the wrong direction.

Dr Brash raised the cannabis issue in a formal speech on law and order yesterday where he also set out a firm new policy enshrining the right to self-defence in the Bill of Rights Act.

That would make it more acceptable in law for a shopkeeper to belt an intruder with a hockey stick, or allow a farmer to shoot someone stealing his farm bike.

“Your home is your castle – your body is your temple,” Dr Brash said. “The law must be unequivocal in allowing you to defend both with reasonable force.”

The laws that police enforced should be keeping people safe from criminals.

Rest of Article

Get the police chasing real crime I reckon. And when it comes to drugs, get the police chasing the P manufacturers, importers and distributors.  That’s  a drug which creates real harm, unlike weed which just makes everyone sleepy and hungry.


Bonus for Running Company into the Ground

I saw this article today:

AMI breaches bailout deed



AMI CEO John Balmforth

AMI CEO John Balmforth is one of the highest paid executives in the country, earning a salary that would rank him in the top 20 among listed company CEOs.

The troubled insurer, which was bailed out by the government after Christchurch’s February earthquake, paid Balmforth a salary of $869,369 in 2011 plus a bonus for the 2010 year of $122,700, according to its 2011 financial statements.

The statements released last week are much more extensive than those released in previous years. They also show the company is in breach of both the Reserve Bank’s draft solvency standards for insurance companies and the solvency standard in the Crown Support Deed which provides $500m of back-up capital.

Failing to meet that standard is a “trigger event” that would allow the Crown to take ownership of the company.

A solvency calculation in the accounts shows a shortfall between actual capital and the minimum capital required of $76 million, even with the government’s $500m backstop included.

Rest of Article

So this guy gets paid $869k and then gets a bonus of $122k for running a company so badly that it needs a government bailout and then breaking the terms of that bailout.

Well give me the job, I’ll do it for $200k and I’m pretty sure I won’t do a worse job…



New Resource Consent

Well I got a new resource consent this afternoon.

The offending condition was removed but a new bit was put in it’s place. It’s now an advice note:

And this is basically completely wrong, but there you go.

My previous post addresses this.

Also, on the media front I now have 2 journalists wanting to do a story on this. So with a bit of luck there’ll be a bit of publicity on this.

Davo Steps it up a Notch

Here is my response to that letter:


                Thanks for your reply.  I wish to address it please:

Section 357 of the Local Government Act deals with damage to roads.  But it is really the first part of it that council’s legal services are referring to:

357 Penalties for damage to roads

  • (1)Every person commits an offence who, not being authorised by the councilor by or under any Act,—
    • (a)encroaches on a road by making or erecting any building, fence, ditch, or other obstacle or work of any kind upon, over, or under the road, or by planting any tree or shrub thereon; or

The important point here is that council can authorise an encroachment over the roadAnd they have done so in my case.  Both explicitly via my resource consent and implicitly via the district plan.

And the advice note from council legal services simply says “an authorisation is required” but does not point out that the Act says that Council is the one that issues the authorisation.  So have Auckland Council delegate this to Auckland Transport?  If so, can I please have a copy of this delegation.

Also, I’d like a copy of the full legal opinion from council’s legal services please.

When I applied for my resource consent the planners at the time would have spoken to the roading people in Papakura District Council for permission to build over the roading reserve.  This permission was obviously granted as my resource consent was issued.    Just because council’s internal structure has changed and a different part of the council has become responsible for this space doesn’t change anything in regards to permissions already received.

If I was building this building today, I might well have to deal with Auckland Transport who might well require me to enter into leases for the use of the airspace.  But this is an existing building with an existing resource consent to use this space.  And of course there’s the matter of the district plan which council now seems to be able ignore when it wants to.  Well I’m afraid council cannot ignore this.

So I’m afraid I do not accept your legal services opinion.   Basic common sense is all that is required to ascertain that it is incorrect.  However I am now going to refer this matter to my solicitors.  I had hoped not to have to do this because it just means more expense for everyone – and almost certainly ratepayers in this instance –  because I’ll be seeking reimbursement for costs incurred when this matter is settled.

You have also not responded to the issues I raise at the end of my previous email.  I can only assume council have no answers to those points.

And, as per the email I mistakenly sent you, I will be approaching the media now. You guys have had ample time to be sensible about this and just aren’t being reasonable.  This is an easy to understand issue and is a blatant misuse of power by the council, so it may well be of interest to the media.  I’ll copy you in on the emails I’ll be sending out to various media organisations this afternoon.



And I have forwarded an email to the following media organisations this afternoon:

  • Fair Go.
  • Campbell Live.
  • Close Up.
  • NZ Herald.
  • Papakura Courier.

Let’s see if any of them wish to run a story, (one of them is a bit interested already).  The people of Auckland and NZ need to know that you can stand up to these bastards.