Is Council moving?

Over the last two weeks, the Post Newspaper has received reports and concerns from members of the community, asking if the rumours about the Franklin Local Board moving out of the area were true.

Both the Local Board Deputy Chairman, Andy Baker, and Deputy Mayor, Bill Cashmore, confirmed that the Franklin Local Board will remain Pukekohe based. Local Board Chair, Angela Fulljames, is yet to respond.

Minutes after their response last week, The Post received another query from a reader, who stated they had been told by Council staff that the premises, located at 82 Manukau Road, Pukekohe, is closing down. They were told that staff would be transferred to Kotuku House in Manukau by Christmas. Our reader raised the concern that if the premises closed down, Franklin residents would have to travel to Manukau to access the same services that were provided in Pukekohe.

The Post understands that Auckland Council is always looking at ways to provide better services and to be more cost efficient. We queried that if the recent discussions result in the closure of the current service centre, would that not diminish the service level for the people across Franklin?

After contacting both Andy Baker and Bill Cashmore, the Post can confirm that Auckland Council will continue to have an office in Pukekohe. Whether it is located on Manukau Road or elsewhere, has yet to be finalised. Again, Franklin Local Board Chair, Angela Fulljames, is yet to make comment on the topic.

At the request of the Franklin Local Board, work has been undertaken to consider the best options as to where Council is located in Pukekohe. It is understood that the current site on Manukau Road is largely under utilised and is a very valuable asset that could provide some great opportunities if Council chose to relocate. However, no final decisions have yet been made.

Bill Cashmore stated that ‘there are some proposed changes in consenting, aimed solely at improved service delivery to our customers, and better conditions for staff.’

“First and foremost the proposal is just that, a proposal. There needs to be some relevance put around the discussion. Consenting made easy is about people and processes that are fit for the modern era—better services for council customers and better opportunities for staff. New core IT will roll out in the south mid-year. It was delivered to the north and west last year and it has worked really well. It delivers greater efficacious and shorter action times. Further to that, the new system will enable staff to be mobile with lap tops, connected directly back to the HQ remotely, which is a huge efficiency gain.”

Andy Baker also confirmed that ‘there is some work being undertaken internally on future options, with the desire to provide better service.’

“Personally, I accept looking at things to try to provide better service is great, but I am completely opposed to any option that results is a reduction of access to council services locally and is based on urban based assumptions.”

Deputy Mayor, Mr Cashmore, explained that 90 percent of Council’s consenting applications were made digitally, and that number is increasing.

“However, there will be hot desks at the Franklin Service Centre, and yes, there will always be a service centre for Franklin. Logic tells us that Pukekohe would be the base, so people will still be able to access consenting staff in Pukekohe.”

“The pure nature of our area will mean that there needs to be people with expertise in rural services in the service centre. Consenting made easy is about delivery and flexibility. If we identify a gap in service provision then that can be filled and a service altered to better fit the required need. Gains can also be measured and feedback will be encouraged from our customers to help inform better service.”

We are interested to hear our readers thoughts on the matter – email: emma@thepost.nz