An unsatisfactory end to a more than unsatisfactory Auckland Council process
After a long hiatus and drawn out period of stress for the concerned residents of Sunnyhills, Thursday marked the meeting of the Auckland Council PACE Committee to finally confirm the fate of Sunnyhills Reserve.
Councillor Sharon Stewart and Councillor Paul Young fought hard to ensure the Committee were aware of the public concern and value of our reserve to the people, however despite other insightful Councillors also stating their dismay at the process and removal of valued public greenspace from local communities, strong opposition from the Chair managed to influence an 11-7 vote in favour of taking our reserve away.
Why do I say the Chair influenced the vote? Frankly, the Chair having his strong opinion known just before the Councillors were allowed to vote was unnecessary and un-democratic, seemingly veiled threats about how Councillors would be viewed if they stalled the process and didn’t vote with him. He kept referring to the ‘process’ of revocation as the only reason for a PACE Committee vote, a rubber-stamping exercise, discarding any Councillors’ opinions that the independent commissioners’ and our communities’ wishes should be followed.
The PACE committee meeting was as embarrassing for Council and Auckland as the rest of the process – a sham with only ever the intention to take the park away from the community; and when this was about to be tested by (seven) smart, strong Councillors, the Chair clearly didn’t like it. He made his mandate clearly known, from the time he made sure concerned residents weren’t allowed to talk at the meeting, to when Cr Stewart’s amendment to defer the decision until more community consultation was denied, to his eventual emotional speech directed squarely at anyone who opposed his view. All apparently due to ‘process’.
It’s election year, so who are the Councillors who voted to revoke our valued reserve, and inevitably will do the same to you against your community’s wishes?
- Cr. Cathy Casey from Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa Ward
- Cr. Fa’anana Efeso Collins from Manukau Ward
- Cr. Alf Filipaina from Manukau Ward
- Cr. Pippa Coom from Waitematā and Gulf Ward
- Cr. Linda Cooper from Waitākere Ward
- Cr. Angela Dalton from Manurewa-Papakura Ward
- Cr. Chris Darby from North Shore Ward
- Cr Shane Henderson from Waitākere Ward
- Cr Bill Cashmore from Franklin Ward
- IMSB Member Glenn Wilcox
- and our Mayor, Phil Goff
Our last hope now rests with Minister of Conservation, Hon. Kiritapu Allan, and whether her priorities are with us, the people, or like our Council leader, will allow these travesties to take their course by choosing to justify their actions as ‘the process’.