Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Super City elections: Mayor's final play for votes

Mayor Len Brown.
Mayor Len Brown.

Len Brown says if he is re-elected Mayor of Auckland he will revive plans to make entry to the council's swimming pools free regionwide.

Mr Brown succeeded in his first term to make entry to pools for children 16 and under free, but a majority of councillors baulked at scrapping charges for everyone.

Some local boards in South Auckland maintained the free-pool policy of the former Manukau City Council through a special rate.

A study by KPMG put the cost at $5.5 million based on figures for six of the city's 24 swimming pools.

Sponsorship and partnerships will be investigated to minimise the cost on ratepayers, said Mr Brown, who has also promised to cut next year's rates rise to 2.5 per cent.

Free swimming pool entry is among the mayor's 10 main policy commitments.

Most of the policies have been announced, including making a start on the $2.86 billion city rail link by 2016, addressing housing affordability and a commitment to support paying a "living wage" for council staff and contractors if a review found it was feasible and affordable.

Not on his priority list is reining in the huge salaries of council executives, dealing with a blowout in the wages bill and tackling debt, which has risen from $3.9 billion to $6.7 billion in his first three budgets - and is forecast to increase to $8.75 billion over the next three years.

In the past few days, right-wing rival John Palino has announced plans not to shift the Warriors to Eden Park or end speedway at Western Spring and to restore inorganic rubbish collections to those areas of Auckland which have lost the service.

He has also promised to temporarily reinstate mowing berms in the old Auckland City area and give local boards extra funding from efficiency savings to decide whether to continue funding the service.

By yesterday, 31.25 per cent of postal votes had been returned. At the same point in 2010, the figure was 45.6 per cent. Voting closes at noon tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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