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Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Super City elections 2013: Palino vows to restart the mowers

John Palino says he'll cut this down to size if elected mayor. Photo / supplied
John Palino says he'll cut this down to size if elected mayor. Photo / supplied

How bad are the berms near you? Send us your photos here.

With grass shooting up in the warm and moist spring, mayoral candidate John Palino is promising to reinstate mowing the council-owned berms in the old Auckland City area.

"I'm sick of travelling around the old Auckland City area and seeing untidy, overgrown grass verges and speaking to residents who are not even aware this council service has been stopped," said Mr Palino.

The right-leaning candidate said he would immediately reinstate mowing the roadside verges and as he found savings would allocate more money to the six local boards in the isthmus suburbs to decide whether to continue the service.

"Berms are not regionally significant. The decision to allocate rates funding to maintain them should be made at the local board level," he said.

The spring weather combined with the local body elections has raised the issue of grass berms, which councillors voted to cease cutting from July this year.

At last week's final council meeting this term, Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer raised the "disgusting" problem of "shin-high" grass across the isthmus, accusing Mayor Len Brown and a majority of councillors of not wanting to know about the end of the core council business.

Yesterday, he said it was becoming an election nightmare, especially for Auckland City ward councillors Cathy Casey and Richard Northey, who supported the funding cut to save $3 million a year.

Mr Brewer and councillors Mike Lee and Christine Fletcher were the Auckland City ward councillors who wanted to retain the service during the budget process.

Last night, a spokesman for Mr Brown's campaign said the old Auckland City Council was the only council to mow berms and it was unfair to provide the service to one part of the region and not others.

He said it would cost $12 million to $15 million a year - a 1 per cent rate rise - to mow berms regionwide, saying local boards had the option to apply a targeted rate for the service.

Auckland Transport mows berms in "special circumstances", but figures show of 16 applications, eight had been granted, four declined and four were still being investigated.

Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson said residents of the ward had been asked to swallow exorbitant rate rises while core services, such as mowing berms, had been cut. She liked the idea of mowing berms being decided and funded locally.

Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers said it was the "cold turkey" nature of the cut that concerned the board, with little or no publicity until now.

How they voted

Keep mowing berms

Auckland City ward councillors:

* Cameron Brewer
* Chris Fletcher
* Mike Lee

Other councillors
* David Taipari*

Stop mowing berms

Auckland City ward councillors:

* Cathy Casey
* Richard Northey

Other councillors:

* Arthur Anae
* Len Brown
* Sandra Coney
* Alf Filipaina
* Michael Goudie
* Ann Hartley
* Penny Hulse
* Des Morrison
* Calum Penrose
* Dick Quax
* Sharon Stewart
* John Walker
* Wayne Walker
* Penny Webster
* George Wood

Absent:
* Noelene Raffills

* Maori Statutory Board member

- NZ Herald

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