Monday, March 29, 2010

11,500 Can't Be Wrong!

With 11,500 signatures on the petition supporting the resumption of passenger rail services between Waikato and Auckland, the Government & its transport agency will find it difficult to ignore the overwhelming public support for such a service.

They no doubt will not like it, and some of their members certainly think Waikato residents are ungrateful - after all they're getting their $2 Billion Expressway between Waikato and Auckland's gridlock, aren't they? But they will have to get used to a growing understanding that NO ONE transport solution is going to unlock the future economic development of this (and other) regions.

Forward-thinking people right around the country are recognising that public transport will be a big part of a modern New Zealand, and will help position it to meet future economic and social demands.

Agencies like the Govt's NZ Transportr Agency and Environment Waikato will also need to get their heads around this, and work with the local Councils and their communities to promote the many affordable ways to develop this and other public transport options.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Longer & Heavier Trucks on our roads?

Despite overwhelming opposition from everyone, it seems, other than the road freight industry – including local councils throughout the Waikato, the Government and its transport agencies have determined that longer (by 10%) and heavier (by 18%) trucks should be allowed on routes they determine, which apparently includes the key route of Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga.

Safety (for other road users) and road maintenance cost issues are obviously not a priority in this particular decision, and it is concerning that local Councils now appear not to have any say over whether such vehicles are allowed to use their roads – initially the proposal was that local authorities would have to approve any routes within their jurisdiction that were available to the new longer/heavier vehicles.

Hamilton City Council was not prepared to consider any such routes unless it was given a guarantee that additional road maintenance costs caused by the bigger vehicles would be met by the users, or the Government. The Government appears to have got round this problem, though its apparent intention just to decree that it’s allowed. At the moment, the likely routes have not been decided, with the NZTA studying this issue.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Police absence forces community to police themselves

Police have warned homeowners not "to place themselves at risk" by tackling burglars themselves, in the wake of the stabbing of a Nawton man who took on two female burglars on Tuesday night. The local police commander says you should "capture details and descriptions and let police respond to the problem"

In an ideal world this would be fine, but lack of police resources, and an all-too-frequent disorganised police response often force the community to take the law into its own hands in this situation. If you can't rely on the police to stop criminals, then many kiwis will rightly choose to take on the crims rather than letting them get away with the proceeds of their crimes.

Only last week my 22-year-old son, working at a local west Hamilton liquor store, chased and caught a burglar escaping with goods he'd tried to steal. When I asked him why he'd taken this risk, my son replied that the police "are useless" - "they never come, even when we give them descriptions."

In this case, when the central police station was rung about the burglary (it was after 4pm on a Friday) staff at my son's work were told to report the theft 'to the local station when it opens' (the next Monday morning).

His experience of repeated home burglaries at his nearby Dinsdale flat, with no effective police action taken, reinforced his decision to take the law into his own hands - successfully on this occasion.

While individual cops are good, hard-working people, the official police response is rubbish, and its no wonder the community take the law into their own hands in cases like these!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

LDS 'US property tycoons' slammed

The LDS Church hierarchy in Auckland, Sydney and Salt Lake City is way out of line in appealing against Hamilton City Council's decision to protect buildings and the general heritage 'character' of the Church College and Mormon temple precincts in the Templeview village.

Local residents - and several generations of Church College former students - are clearly opposed to the wish by the LDS property tycoons to demolish the College buildings. There is also evidence that these same people had initially proposed to demolish at least part of the iconic Mormon Temple, and they have certainly called for the removal from the Council's District Plan of the heritage 'overlay' for the Temple precinct - which if enacted would make it harder for anyone to change this structure.

Templeview, its Temple, the Church College buildings and the row of staff houses on Tuhikaramea Rd, have been an iconic part of the Hamilton community for over 50 years and deserve the protection that the City Council has proposed for them. It might be alright for the US businessmen running the LDS church's property division to rip in and bust old buildings in the USA - affecting whole communities, but they will have to come to grips with the fact that New Zealand is different, and they can't just do what they like with a community that is as special as this one.

These LDS US property tycoons - not to be confused with the church's religious leaders, who have had no say in this decision - have appealed against ALL of the City Council's decisions to provide heritage protection under 'Variation 7' to its District Plan. There is great consternation in both the city's Mormon community (11,000-strong), and the general community - many Mormons feel constrained about criticising decisions by any of their leadership, but many others are openly saying that the decision to close the College, demolish the buildings, and oppose any heritage protection arrangements is wrong, and is counterproductive for the LDS Church.