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Editorial

Is council listening to community concerns?

October 26 2021 by Philip & Jocelyn Sanford

Is council listening to community concerns?

A number of residents in the areas encompassing Suburb Street, Frankton Road, Coronation Drive, Park Street, Friends of the Gardens and others have met with council planners and engineers, (the only councillor ever to attend any of these meeting is Craig Fergusson— greatly appreciated) to try and convince the planners that the proposed cycle track route in the area is not in the best interests of the community (cyclists, visitors, walkers and residents).

It involves the destruction of many trees & the effect on the gardens is not acceptable. It also goes against the Council’s 10 Year Plan which emphasises the importance of the environment i.e. reducing greenhouse gas emissions (trees soak up these gases as opposed to concrete)!!!!

Our concerns have been ignored and at the last zoom meeting (08/10/21) an attempt was made by the residents, Friends of the Gardens & cycle representatives to change the route and reduce the number of trees requiring removal & the gradient of the track for cyclists & the interaction with other users (pedestrians — old and young). The planners justified their original route with a scoring system that was just a joke when better alternatives were expressed. We were just not listened to!!!

We have received a reply from the Mayor’s office to our concerns, which we believe was not written by him, attempting to justify the scoring system & their plans.

We quote from the last paragraph of this letter — “You are correct that work is still progressing on the balance of the track between Frankton and the Queenstown Gardens. This project also includes the construction of a new wastewater pump sewer main, and replacement/relining of the existing gravity sewer main. Work is ongoing on the business case for this project with preliminary design currently in progress. Consultation is yet to commence on the part of the network. As above we remain committed to engaging with all parties. At this stage we expect to be able to bring a paper to Full Council with intent to recommence works on the selected option in the New Year”.

We do not want to be cynical but is this another “fait accomplis”?

We have had experiences of another meeting, 16/06/2007 where a different council rationalised a plan for Park Street & Gardens reserve. This was done with consultation with 17 members of the public and the proposals put forward, which are still significant today including; parking, lighting, access, boat sheds, fore shore and tree management & importantly the Outcome!!!

The Council of 2007 listened to an independent expert & to its citizens which does not seem to be occurring in 2021 — hopefully it changes for the better before 2022. We think we are right in assuming that many members of the community are not being listened to by the Council despite the community’s genuine concerns & good ideas.

Philip & Jocelyn Sanford

- Philip & Jocelyn Sanford