Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Councillors' new move on berms

No-mow councillors make u-turn and call for roadside cutting to continue until local body elections are over

Overgrown berms in Segar Avenue, Mt Albert. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Overgrown berms in Segar Avenue, Mt Albert. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland councillors Richard Northey and Cathy Casey have done a u-turn on their previous support for not cutting city grass berms and want an immediate fix until after the local body elections.

Mr Northey and Ms Casey are facing strong challengers in wards with scruffy roadsides, and are blaming poor council communication for people not knowing about the new policy.

Mr Northey, who told the Herald on Tuesday that he supported the no-mowing decision and had received feedback in favour of the move, yesterday said people had not been told of the decision or the reasons for it.

He said the berms should be mowed this month and the incoming councillors and local board members should decide whether to resume berm mowing per- manently and, if so, how to pay for it.

The Herald was inundated yesterday with emails from residents, many upset at how shabby and overgrown many Auckland street verges had become.

Many were angry with the council for stopping mowing the berms; others were puzzled as to why some residents did not want to maintain their property frontages.

Ms Casey said the council should en- sure that Auckland Transport continued mowing the berms to give the new local boards the opportunity to consult their communities over whether they wanted to pay for the service with a targeted rate.

Mr Northey and Ms Casey were the only ward councillors from the old Auck- land City area to vote in June to stop mowing berms in the old Auckland City isthmus area at a saving of $3 million. The other Auckland City ward coun- cillors, Cameron Brewer, Chris Fletcher and Mike Lee, voted to mow the berms.

The vote brought the Auckland City area into line with the other six territorial councils that make up the Super City, which did not mow berms.

Labour's Mr Northey is facing a serious challenge from Communities and Resi- dents (C&R) candidate Denise Krum for the single seat in the Maungakiekie- Tamaki ward.

City Vision's Ms Casey is facing a tussle againstC&R candidates Chris Fletcher and Nigel Turnbull for one of the two Albert- Eden-Roskill ward seats.

A Herald survey of the main mayoral candidates and the Auckland City ward candidates drew eight responses, includ- ing Mayor Len Brown, who restated his support for not mowing berms.

"Extending berm mowing to the whole region would cost $12 million to $15 million a year - a 1 per cent increase to rates," he said.

"It's unfair to provide a free service to one part of the region and not others." Mayoral candidate John Minto said he would reinstate the service, saying the change was made without consultation with residents and no consideration for flats and homes without mowers.

Yesterday, Auckland Transport said it had mowedovergrown berms on astretch of St Lukes Rd after a complaint last week. It also received an assurance from the Auckland Racing Club that it would main- tain a 1km strip along the back of the Ellerslie racecourse on Peach Parade after Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer photo- graphed grass knee-deep in places.

One Panmure resident said the council had stopped mowing a previously beauti- fully maintained roadside reserve in Ireland Rd about 12 months ago. After the resident contacted council- lors last week, the council instructed its parks department to address the problem.

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