City Vision opens bid to stay on top

By Bernard Orsman

City Vision yesterday opened its campaign to keep control of Auckland City by promising not to sell the airport shares and to stop the policy of putting up water charges to subsidise other council spending.

Absent was Dr Bruce Hucker, the former leader who quit the ticket two weeks ago after a bitter internal spat over his hard line on higher water charges.

Dr Hucker was mentioned in passing for his 18 years as the main centre-left voice on the council but, Labour Cabinet minister and Mt Roskill MP Phil Goff told the 110 or so supporters, the campaign was all about presenting a united face.

"The quickest way to electoral defeat is to look disunited," said Mr Goff, who could speak from personal experience, having lost his seat in the 1990 election landslide against the bitterly divided Labour Government.

Mr Goff said communication of City Vision's policies and getting the postal vote "off the kitchen table" and into the letterbox would be vital for the political grouping, which won control of the council for the first time in 2004.

City Vision won nine of the 20 council seats, and secured a majority with the aid of Mayor Dick Hubbard and independent Faye Storer.

Another guest speaker, Green MP Sue Bradford, said she hoped the city council would not sink back into its traditional role of a Citizens & Ratepayers "rich, white man's club".

She praised the ticket for the diversity of its 38 candidates standing for the council, Auckland Regional Council and Auckland District Health Board.

City Vision has issued a full set of policies, covering everything from transport, rates and water bills to social objectives.

After raising rates overall by 21.3 per cent and 32.8 per cent for households in the past three years, City Vision is making no promises about future rises except to say it will keep increases to a "minimum through sound management of the city's affairs".

The ticket is also promising to abolish the $95 annual general charge and look at replacing the $199 fixed rubbish charge with "polluter pays" charging.

It would also abolish the policy - backed by some City Vision councillors this term - of more than doubling water bills over 10 years to raise $280 million for other council spending.

City Vision is now saying the policy is not financially sustainable and is unfair on households.

Mr Goff scoffed at claims by former mayor and C&R Now-aligned mayoral candidate John Banks that he had turned over a new leaf.

"I say to that, 'Yeah right'. He hasn't changed. He is 60. He has been that way all his life and he will be like that again."

CENTRE-LEFT VOWS

* Keep the airport shares.
* Stop putting up water bills to pay for council spending.
* Abolish $95 uniform annual general charge.
* Replace $199 rubbish charge with "polluter pays".
* Keep rates increases to a minimum.
* Increase affordable housing in partnership with Government.
* Oppose above-ground option for Avondale section of SH20.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 18 Dec 2014 23:44:27 Processing Time: 309ms