We are heading into Council Plan Consultation season with Councils in the wider Franklin area embarking on a number of public consultations for a variety of plans. For both Auckland and Waikato. The first off the block is going to be asking for feedback on what we call our Annual Plans which is the financial budget for the year starting on 1 July 2017.

Whilst we often hear people making comments about how Council operates and the level of rates, it is not often that these same people take the opportunity to actually have their say during consultation. So come on folks, have a look at the proposals, consider them and let us know—yay or nay or something else.

The Franklin Local Board are now developing our Local Board Plan. This is done after every election and sets the priorities for us as a Local Board and is the basis for how and where we make investments so is really important. We have been hard at work looking at our last plan and deciding what we think is important and soon will be asking you, the public, for your thoughts.

At a regional level, after around six years, it is time to refresh the regional blueprint which is known as the Auckland Plan. This is a huge document and again will underpin the Council direction and priorities which really determine the financial decisions in the next Long Term Plan. With the Unitary Plan pretty much squared away and a new Mayor, it is time we looked at this plan so that we can ensure things are aligned strategically and financially. This consultation will be longer and not finalised until next year.

So again, I really encourage people to have a look at the appropriate plan at the times they are out for consultation and use your democratic rights to have your say.

For we politicians, listening is a key requirement of the role. In recent years I have struggled in some circumstances to hear what is being said, particularly in noisy environments. So late last year I took advantage of one of the many offers of free hearing checks. I had had a check years ago but made the poor decision not to do anything. Probably because I vainly thought hearing aids were for those older than me. Oddly I was happy to accept the need to wear glasses and that my hair was falling out or turning grey.

Strange I know. This time around however I decided the innocuous hearing aids able to be bluetoothed to my phone were of more importance than my unsubstantiated vanity. I now have hearing aids that have made an incredible difference. Like most things, the technology is staggering and when I tell others, the majority all say things along the lines of, “yeah I should get checked because I really struggle to hear some things sometimes”. Based on my experience all I say is get over yourself and get checked.