Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Auckland Council's glossy view 'an appalling waste'

Some ratepayers resent the cost of The Auckland Plan. Photo / Greg Bowker
Some ratepayers resent the cost of The Auckland Plan. Photo / Greg Bowker

Auckland Council has spent $411,000 producing a glossy book about how it wants to create the world's most liveable city by 2040.

The Auckland Plan has 380 pages as well as a 60-page addendum of projects, and makes much use of large colour pictures.

The production cost - working out at $41 a copy - was obtained from the council under the Official Information Act.

In response to Herald inquiries, the council said 10,000 copies were printed and made available free at council service centres and libraries.

They also went to Government agencies, other local authorities, universities, lobby groups and people who had offered comments on a 252-page draft plan late last year.

A northern ratepayer who wrote one of the 1140 submissions on the plan's Urban Auckland growth chapter said last night she was disgusted to hear the book's cost.

Asking not to be named for business reasons, she said she and her husband received separate copies, delivered by courier.

"I flicked through it. It's a masterpiece of grand design but details are lacking. It's general stuff about connectivity and climate change and making the most liveable city but it doesn't say how that's going to happen.

"This is an appalling waste of paper and money on what is basically PR - the council could have made it available online and at public libraries for a fraction of the cost.

"How dare they charge us higher and higher rates to pay for a document that is trying to sell us their idea of the new Auckland ... am I the only one who thinks this is an irresponsible use of council funds?"

Right-leaning councillor Cameron Brewer said the spending was over the top when many ratepayers were feeling the economic pinch.

He said a smaller, concise version would have been enough, and the full plan could have been made available on the council's website.

Most people would read it that way and the council was pushing to become as "paperless" as possible.

"The hard copy is already gathering dust and being used as a doorstop - just like all the other council plans before it."

All Auckland MPs were sent copies, and Green MP David Clendon said he was grateful to receive it.

"There is an argument that all these reports should be online only but there are some, particularly older folk, who are not comfortable with that. I'm of that generation who thinks a hard copy is valuable to interrogate and analyse and work through it."

In response to questions, the council said the legislation setting up Auckland Council required the production and adoption of a comprehensive spatial plan.

It was the first plan of its type in New Zealand, and the first to address the development of the entire region across all facets of the social, economic, environmental and cultural future.

"The Auckland Plan is a comprehensive and detailed action plan with targets, measures, actions and priorities to meet the requirements of the legislation."

It was also required that the plan be available for free inspection at public offices during working hours.

Before sending copies, the council had asked people whether they would prefer to access it online.

Distribution of 6000 copies was expected to cost a further $12,000.

The high-quality product was chosen because maps and visuals had to be clear and the book had to stand up to six years of use before it was reviewed and replaced.

The council had numerous requests for paper copies of key documents. However, between May 29 and July 2, there were 20,117 page views for the online version of the plan.

- NZ Herald

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