The “Con” in Consultation.

 

At a meeting of the Infrastructure and Works Committee of Waitakere City Council on 3 February 2010, a report presented by Hussam Abdul-Rassol, Manager, Transport Services noted that one of the corridor studies of major arterial routes within the city had identified Te Atatu Road as needing upgrade work to address a number of safety and operational issues. It was noted that a number of workshops had been held in 2008 with limited participation. Note 26 stated “Public consultation will need to take various forms to ensure the public is fully informed of the Te Atatu Road corridor project. Due to the significant amount of land acquisition required, Council officers anticipate a lengthy consultation process.”  In conclusion the report noted “It is necessary to engage Councillors, Community Board members, other transport organizations and members of the public in the decision making process to achieve successful results.” It was recommended that the public consultation process, and detailed design be started before the end of December 2010.

 

Nearly two years later, at a full Council meeting on 30 September 2010, Waitakere City Councillors voted to receive a report on the Te Atatu  Road and Lincoln Road Corridors Improvements report. Further details are given below.

 

Then on September 20 2011, more than 100 property owners in Te Atatu Rd and Edmonton Rd were told by Auckland Transport parts of their properties were wanted.

“Part of your property has been identified as necessary for the road widening.”

In the accompanying information pamphlet was the statement “Where the proposed works are minor, a designation may not be required and compensation negotiations can be started at the time the landowners are notified of the proposed works.”

“The acquisition of land for public purposes such as roading is governed by the Public Works Act 1981.” “Negotiation to acquire the land and on the amount of compensation often takes place after all the required consents have been granted, or the designation has been made.” Landowners were invited to attend a meeting on 1 October 2011.

 

At the meeting on 1 October 2011 a glossy pamphlet was handed out entitled “Affected landowners specific meetings and consultation.”

It stated “If your property is affected we will:

  • talk to you personally
  • work with you to manage your concerns
  • explain the support you are entitled to and the process of assessing fair compensation
  • explain the relevant processes and your rights

 

Another pamphlet enclosing an inaccurate flowchart stated “AT begins a process of consultation with affected landowners. At this time, access to the affected property is generally sought, to enable design and construction planning works to proceed while land negotiations take place.”

 

On 27 October, following my request to Michael Riley for a date when negotiations would commence, I was informed “Formal negotiations under the provisions of the Public Works Act 1981 are planned to commence in February 2012.”

“We do not wish, however, to pre-empt the outcome of the public consultation by entering into irrevocable agreements until the Local Board has approved the final design.”

“The time taken for negotiation does largely depend on the property owner’s preparedness to negotiate in good faith: Some property owners are only marginally affected, and we anticipate a negotiation time-frame of perhaps only several weeks.”

 

A Public Open Day was held on 5 November and the inaccurate time-line presented stated “Sep- Nov 2011 Affected Landowners & Community consulted on preliminary design.”

A report to the Auckland Transport Board stated “Submissions by the public are now being considered.”

Auckland Transport’s own website advertised Public Consultation from 28 October to 21 November.

On 8 November I complained to Doug McKay CEO of Auckland Council, the parent body of AT. He referred my complaint to Darryl Griffin.

On 14 November Darryl Griffin advised “I do not consider that there is any reason why Auckland Transport would revisit the decision for construction of cycle lanes on both sides of Te Atatu Road.”

Was there no intention of taking any notice of public submissions due to close a week later?

His evidence of the decision was WCC resolution 1418/2010 passed on 29 September 2010.

“MOVED by Cr Clews, seconded by Cr Neeson:

The Council resolved to:

  1. Receive the Te Atatu and Lincoln Road Corridors Improvements report.
  2. Agree that the Council’s preferred option for Te Atatu Road Corridor Improvements is as outlined in this report, and that this is the basis for further design work on the Te Atatu Road Corridor Improvements project.
  3. Agree that the Council’s preferred option for Lincoln Road Corridor Improvements is Option 3, as outlined in the Lincoln Road Corridor Scheme Assessment Report dated April 2008, and that Option 3 is the basis for further design work on the Lincoln Road Corridoe Improvements project.
  4. Agree it be recommended to the new Auckland Council to include further funding for the Te Atatu Road and Lincoln Road Corridor Improvements projects in its draft Annual Plan 2011/2012 and Long Term Council Community Plan 2012-2022, in accordance with the timeline shown on table 1 and 2 in the Te Atatu Road and Lincoln Road  Corridor Improvements report.

 

At a meeting of TPOG (Te Atatu Property Owners Group) on 15 December, the three Local Board members from Henderson-Massey who attended, Messrs Flaunty, Corban and Nobilo, all sated publicly their opposition to the cycle lanes. As a result of that meeting a number of questions were forwarded to Mark Ford, Chairman of the Board of AT. He referred them to Mohammed Alsakini, Senior Transport Engineer, AT. We had also asked for access to the Public Submissions but were denied that with the Privacy Act being cited.

 

The question arises then. Can those submissions be legally regarded as public submissions?

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