Author: Andrew Baker

Andy Baker

I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the World Masters Games recently with the games officially ending with a road cycle race through the Ardmore area on Sunday. That was the only event located within Franklin despite some unsuccessful lobbying at the time they were considering where to hold things. With many of the events requiring stadiums or specialist surfaces or venues we struggled to compete with other places. However the road race has the highest number of individual participants and if what I am told by competitors about the spectator numbers at other cycle events such as the mountain biking in Woodhill, hopefully some of the hundreds coming out in support were able to spend some of their discretionary cash in and around the place. While on the train to Eden park and last week when I was in the city wandering around and in particular at Queens Wharf where the WMG village was located it struck home how far we have come in terms of our ability and willingness to host large events. These games had over 25000 competitors and the vast majority being from either elsewhere in NZ or from overseas. Talking to some Aussies and Canadians on the train, they have come to play in more than one way which means plenty of spending on tourism and hospitality in a usually slowing time...

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Bakers Banter – Column

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...

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Andy baker – Column

The bit of road that we all know as State Highway 22 between Drury and Paerata has, over the years, been the scene of some of our worst vehicle crashes. In my years as a cop in Pukekohe I attended several crashes, all of them caused either by speed or just bad driving and decision making. The road is recognised as one the country’s worst black spots. Being a state highway, it falls under the responsibility of the Government agency NZTA who have been making adjustments and improvements over many years but sadly, people have continued to be injured and killed far too regularly. There has been plans and talk of major works such as a roundabout at the Glenbrook Rd intersection and straightening the S bends near Jesmond Road, but it has never progressed further. They got as close as sorting out the land at the Glenbrook Road intersection but for whatever reason, the budget for the works has been continually pushed out. Every opportunity I have had since 2010 I have asked NZTA when it would happen so both the intersection and the entry into the golf club could be much safer. So I was extremely pleased when a delegation from what is known as the Safe Roads Programme came to the Local Board recently. This is a Government initiative with a budget of $600 million over...

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Bakers Banter

Happy new year everyone, hard to believe we are already half way through January. The first thing I want to do is give an update on the issue I spoke about in my December article regarding the width of Victoria Street West in Pukekohe. One of the first calls I received on a Council related issue this year, was from Auckland Transport reassuring me that they are in the process of preparing plans for work to sort out the problem. Having always had a very good relationship with the person who called, I accept it on face value but won’t let up. So hopefully a positive note to start a new year. Whilst on transport, I have poked my nose into the work site at the Pukekohe railway station. The project manager, who is a Franklin resident and regular train commuter, advises things are going really well. However, we need to be aware that there will be some significant disruptions at the Station Rd area which will be well signposted and advertised, so if you use that small drop off and parking bay area, access will soon be restricted. Since I last wrote, we have seen a few changes round the place namely a new Prime Minister, a bit of a reshuffle of ministers and some pending retirements from Parliament announced. Most will have an opinion on John Key’s decision....

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Bakers Banter

As this term of Council draws to a close, as has been widely communicated, we say goodbye to our Deputy Chair Jill Naysmith. Here are a few last words from Jill. After nine years of representing Waiuku/Awhitu, including six on the Local Board serving wider Franklin, I thought the time was right to seek other challenges and see life from another perspective. My term on the Community Board prior to 2010 was incredibly rewarding and helped prepare me for going into the unknown of the new Auckland Council amalgamation. When we all started on the Franklin Local Board in late 2010, nobody really knew what to expect or...

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Bakers Banter

It seems every day, either within the media format or in a general discussion, we are reminded of the challenges we are faced with in regard to growth. The most talked about issues are housing and transport. But there are a host of other infrastructure requirements that have to be taken in to consideration, with one of the biggies being water service, be it water in, or water out. In the ex Franklin District Council area of Franklin we have already seen the upgrade of the reticulated water in places like Pukekohe, Patumahoe and Clarks Beach, thanks to the connection to the main Auckland pipeline that runs from the Waikato.The cost of that work was around $116 million. However as we all know, the pressure of the enormous growth in both North Waikato and Southern Auckland means the investment has to continue. Watercare Services who have the mandate to manage and fund water services has around $180 million tagged for upgrading wastewater facilities in the Pukekohe, Clarks Beach and Waiuku areas over the next ten years, with around $394 million either already spent or budgeted for over the next 20 years. On top of that is another $505 million is tagged to be spent in the wider southern area and will impact on our communities. Even with my mathematical limitations, that is around $899 million being invested in water...

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