Central Leader : April 1st 2011
12 CENTRAL LEADER, APRIL 1, 2011 NEWS Len Brown's take on the supercity With April marking the the sixth month of Auckland's new supercity, reporter Scott Morgan sat down with mayor Len Brown to find out how he thinks the new structure is working. What are your general thoughts on how the supercity is progressing? At a rapid pace. We ve pretty much settled the struc- tural changes. There are bits of work to do around finalising local boards roles and their budgets and obvi- ously outstanding work on the Maori Statutory Board and their funding. I think otherwise everything is in place. We ve got the Pacific Island Advisory Board, Eth- nic Advisory Board, youth and business. We ve also been asked to set up an advisory board for our disability sector and we re very happy to do that and I ve set up a range of meetings with seniors through Grey Power and Age Concern. The whole focus of reaching out and bringing everyone into an inclusive city has been really effective. You don't think there are too many meetings, with 27 committees, pan- els, boards and forums? It s not going to be perfect. We re a totally new structure and if we weren t having too many meetings then we d be having not enough. People would feel the mayor shut them out, you re not being inclusive enough. I m very happy to err on the side of too many meetings, of over- inclusivity. We re doing some critical stuff with the Auckland spatial plan -- that s a huge body of work and we ve got to get that done by December so we re travelling at a fearsome pace. If you re not on the train, get out of the way. Are you enjoying the job? Absolutely. It s long hours but when I m in the com- munity people have been very generous with their support and encouraging of me when I m out there so it s easy and a hell of a lot of fun. With the job comes scru- tiny. How have you dealt with that? It s hard. You re in a high scrutiny job probably not dis- similar to what the prime minister has to deal with. I accept that. You ve got to be thick skinned and have a good sense of humour. It s not every day you get sent up by Tui and that was great. I accept the intense nature of the scrutiny and would hope that the scrutiny helps inform the debate. When are we going to see delegation of powers to local boards? It s working out. Most of those delegations are in place and I would encourage boards just to get on. If we don t think it s there in terms of delegation we ll say. We ve had one or two workshops where we have worked through scenarios and by and large everyone understands what they re entitled to do or not. So I think people shouldn t overly amp that -- I think people understand exactly what local boards are required to do and I just want them to get on with doing that -- get in among service levels in the local community and show good leadership and start bringing those community plans forward. I m giving the boards a lot of latitude. That s what was specified in the legislation and I m encouraging that. So does that mean we're going to see local boards delegated power to im- pose liquor bans and set targeted rates? We re working through that and what that means. The one thing I m adamant we re not doing is setting up 21 local councils. So we re all part of the same team, we re in a shared governance model. We need to have a good balance between what are the bylaws and regulations that have global application across the region and those where we can give some latitude locally and that will take a little while to work out. I don t think it s necessary to overly stress about that. We re a totally new structure and I think goodwill and com- mon sense will work that out. Is there a timeframe for introducing these chan- ges? I d be really keen for us to be in a well settled space three to six months down the track. No more than that. Rates rises are some- thing people are worried about. How will you keep the increase down to your goal of 4.9 percent? Presently our proposed rate increase in the draft budget is 4.9 percent, down from 9.2 percent. I ve got pressure on the organisation to see if we can t get to 3.9 percent. I m the one in this council with the reputation for being particularly staunch and pru- dent on rates. And so I m working really hard to make that a sustainable position and until such time as it is I won t go to the community with something that s not sustainable or justifiable. We ve inherited this situ- ation. This is the average rate from all of the other councils, so all of the councils had an average rate increase of 8 or 9 percent so I ve been able to with our councillors to trim that to 4.9 and let s see if we can get it lower than that. That s what I want to achieve. Can you give us some sort of idea where the savings will come from? We haven t got to the bot- tom of the budget in terms of a final starting point. It s taken a long time to bring these budgets together, it s been quite complicated. It can be any or all parts of the organisation whether it s cap and spend, operational savings, savings from amal- gamation, assessment of our depreciation rates. There s a whole range of options where one, we ve got the existing savings so far and two, where we can get more. So how are we going to pay for big infrastructure projects like the inner city rail loop? I ve agreed to abide by the 10-year plans by and large. I haven t changed much in the capital programmes or operations programmes of the existing plans. I have given councillors a very clear message -- the 10-year plan we re working on right now and put in place next June will be a reflection of our vision that is agreed through the Auckland Plan that I m required under stat- ute to articulate my vision. The next plan will reflect those types of focuses in par- ticular around the inner city rail loop and how we re going to do that. There's been some con- cern about the possibility of regional fuel taxes to fund the inner city rail loop, rail to the airport and the North Shore. Right from the start of the campaign I ve been really open to all options to how we might fund this major trans- formation from user charges through to private public partnerships to regional pet- rol tax through to infrastruc- ture bonds. All options will be in the pot for consideration. We re not going to let debates of affordability or the issue of expense stand in the way of the need for us to carry out the transformation of Auck- land that we know is 50 years overdue. So we re going to find a way. You seem to have rela- tively good political sup- port on transport issues. Relatively good? That s the understatement of the century. I ve got outstanding politi- cal support and they know why. They know the people of Auckland totally back this vision. Any place that I go to people always come up to me and say, We back you all the way on your vision for trans- port in Auckland. Particu- larly the transport . So you'll be needing John Key to get out his chequebook too? There s public and private parts to this discussion. In our private discussions the government has always been considerate and mindful of the mandate I have and the vision I have been putting forward, which is the whole idea of bringing together the supercity. That Auckland at last can speak with one voice and have a strong leader and a common vision. That s what we ve got. Miss Chiff Minx takes the tease to a high level Cheeky dancer: Auckland resident Freya Wolfe, aka Miss Chiff Minx, is one of the winners of the Miss Burlesque Auckland heats and is off to Wellington to strut her stuff. The competition in Wellington is on April 16 and is New Zealand's only national burlesque competition. Photo: JASON OXENHAM By RHIANNON HORRELL Abitofcheekandabitof tease is what it s all about for an Auckland burlesque dancer who is heading to Wellington to compete for the national title. Freya Wolfe, aka Miss Chiff Minx, is one of two dancers from Auckland selected to compete in Miss Burlesque New Zealand on April 16. Ms Wolfe, also a school teacher, competed in the Auckland heats at the end of February and is delighted to take her talents further. I got told I had pizzazz. We re representing New Zea- land burlesque -- I ve only recently gotten into it. She told the judging panel her idol is Bettie Page, an American model who became famous for her fetish- modelling and pin-up photos. She got into the fetish stuff by accident, Ms Wolfe says. I ve always related to her look, I love the 1950s. Ms Wolfe will now face off against seven others in the national competition. She took up burlesque dancing in the last six to nine months and has a degree in performing and screen arts. I ve been performing since I was nine. My partner s told me I ve got to stop buying costumes. It s an expensive hobby. Sewing would be a good skill to have. Ms Wolfe says a Welling- ton costume-maker has also come to the party by agree- ing to help with outfits. It s a 1930s gown I m wearing for the competition. She is planning to use a reworked version of her rou- tine for the national event and says the winner will receive $400, a tiara and burlesque costumes. The people going to see it will see polished burlesque, Ms Wolfe says. The stakes will be that much higher. That s what burlesque is all about -- the tease. It s an any-woman game. It s so popular and appealing to women. You can find lessons everywhere now. It s one of these empowering things for women. Creator and director of Miss Burlesque New Zea- land Catherine Prescott says the standard of entries has been exceptional. We do allow amateurs to enter too. Freya is above an amateur level. It s nice how passionate they are. Ms Prescott says there is no set standard to move from amateur to professional level but it may depend on whether the person has a dancing background. Five or six judges will rate contestants on the night. Visit www.centralleader. co.nz to see a clip of Ms Wolfe performing her routine.
March 30th 2011
April 6th 2011