How to fund transport in Auckland is quickly shaping up as a major issue over the next few months, and potentially even during the election later this year. The issue has flared up following a war of words over the weekend between Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Mayor Phil Goff. During the flare up, both were busy talking past each other and in this case, both were kind of correct, but it doesn’t mean it’s helping things.

It started on Saturday on TV3’s The Nation, where Steven Joyce was interviewed about the upcoming budget. As well as kind of confirming that funding for the City Rail Link would be in the budget – a not unexpected announcement given developments last year, Joyce took a swipe at the council and how much they’re spending (full transcript here)

Let’s talk about Auckland. They’ve got a shortfall of $4 billion for doing the minimum they require in transport infrastructure over the next decade. How do you think that city should pay for that?
As an Aucklander, I think the government and Auckland Council should prioritise transport investment. We’re certainly doing it, because we’re spending more than we have before and a greater proportion of our share. Unfortunately, at the moment anyway, the way the budget is set up for Auckland Council, they’re looking at actually reducing their expenditure on transport over the next few years. And I think it’s important that Aucklanders have that discussion, because you’ve got central government, which includes taxpayers everywhere else over the country putting more money in, and looks like, on the face of it, a bit of a lower contribution by Auckland Council. So it’s really important that Auckland Council — and I’m talking about all the councillors, not just the mayor — look really closely at that transport spend and ask themselves, ‘Is that a big enough part of their budget?’

Goff shot back noting that we’re already spending more on transport.

“With all due respect, I think the minister is mistaken,” Mr Goff replied on Sunday.

“Auckland Council has increased its expenditure on transport by about 50 percent over the last few years, since it was amalgamated.”

Mr Goff is aiming to keep rates increases at or below 2.5 percent – well below recent hikes and the 16 percent figure he says would be needed to fund the city’s growing transport infrastructure.

As I said both are kind of correct. Effectively, Joyce is talking about the figures in the Council’s Long Term Plan – which sees funding decrease after the Interim Transport Levy expires in mid-2018 – while Goff is talking about what has happened with spending, which has seen council increase spending on transport since amalgamation. Funding is of course a perennial issue that will always be debated but it prompted a few thoughts.

  • The council need to make it easier to understand their spending. It’s surprisingly difficult to work out just how much money the council has spent on transport in the past and what they plan to in the future. This is especially the case for finding out just how much is from rates vs other funding sources. some of the information is of course in detailed financial reports buried within 100+ page documents but very few people would bother to read and understand those. Given so much discussion seems to focus on the level of rates, it seems the council could do a lot better job at making this information accessible and explaining what the net spending that is coming from rates.
  • Should we have a dedicated transport rate? Given how much discussion there is in the general public about transport, perhaps it would provide better visibility for the council to just have a separate rate for it. At the moment, all council rates go into a big pot which then gets distributed up amongst the various areas the council spend money on. The council will say what percentage they’re spending on each area but as with above, it’s not clear what the total amounts are. It can also be very hard to tell just what any rate increases are covering. For example, if a rate increase was 2.5%, are all areas of council spending increasing proportionally? Again, without wading through dense documents it can be hard to tell. Having all council transport funding come from a dedicated rate might make it easier for the public to understand. Ultimately it would also make it easier to replace that funding stream with something else, such as regional fuel taxes or road pricing.
  • Goff seems too wedded to removing the Interim Transport Levy. Goff has said before he wants the Interim Transport Levy to expire and to be replaced with a regional fuel tax and has the 16% increase in rates he refers to relates to replacing the levy with general rates funding. As mentioned, this will be a big part what Joyce is referring to in his comments. The reality is, we’re already paying the transport levy so removing it is for all intents and purposes a rate cut at a time we need to be ramping up investment. It seems crazy to remove it only then have to introduce a new funding source to make up for it. Keeping the levy in place for longer, even if blaming the government for it, would surely go some way to putting the funding ball back in the government’s court.
  • Keeping the Interim Transport Levy doesn’t solve the problem alone. While keeping the levy would help, it is only a small part of the puzzle. It raises only about $60 million per year whereas ATAP suggests the funding shortfall over the first decade alone is $4 billion. That still leaves a sizeable chunk of funding that needs to come from somewhere. By focusing on this issue for the council, it feels like Joyce is just trying to kick the can down the road for the government having to do its part.
  • The government should be funding more strategic projects. We’ve talked before about how the government should be taking a larger responsibility for the big strategic PT projects and so not tied to council funding, just like they do with the strategic road projects (the motorways).

I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a perfect relationship between Joyce and what he’s saying in public could be quite different to what he says behind closed doors. But, it certainly seems the council could be doing a better job of ensuring there are fewer opportunities for Joyce to attack them. At the same time, transport issues are becoming an increasingly hot topic as the road network has a meltdown every few days. At what point does their fighting with the council over funding start to affect the upcoming elections?

Lastly it’s interesting to see we’re not alone in thinking about the election implications, such as this excellent piece from Newsroom’s Tim Muphy is also about the issue.

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62 comments

  1. One of the last things the last Labour govt did before being voted out was approve and legislate for a regional fuel tax for Auckland to pay for transport (specifically electrification). One of the first things the National govt did was reverse that. I’m not sure where Labour stands now on the fuel tax but it should look at this. Part of a wider problem in NZ – local govt is fairly hamstrung by central govt restrictions on how it can raise funds, and we have one of the lowest ratios of local to central govt spending in the developed world.

    1. too little too late which ever way you look at it really.

      every new family to Auckland brings an average of three new cars onto our motorway systems…..with up to 70K new immigrants per years….thats a lot of new cars…

      for a motorway system that is really isn’t keep up to date never mind expanded to keep up for demand.

      still good for car dealerships I guess.

  2. Well Goff and Joyce in five minutes basically undid consensus politics that Len, English (Unitary Plan) and Key (yeah him) slowly built up over the last six years in regards to transport in Auckland. Auckland and New Zealand seriously deserve better from both parties and if not we should find new ones quickly.

    However, the primary risk now falls to Bill English. Why? Becomes very simple for Bill English, tell Joyce to pull his head in and cooperate or Auckland might just exercise its 34% of the total vote and bring in a new Government. Just ask Don Brash what happened when South Auckland turned out enmass in 2005 and flipped the vote from National to Labour.

    Polling has stabilised out at the moment so it wont take much to bring either side in. The question is whose election is it to win and whose election it to lose come September 23.

    1. If NZ as a whole doesn’t bring in a new government then we can expect 3 more years of massive wastage on counter-productive new roading and further attrition of our national rail system, or in Auckland’s case a renewed promise of no new rail infra for a ludicrous 30 years (Wellington probably never!)

      It is imperative to secure a change in govt for all who do not want this scenario, because this is what a National-led govt with Steven Joyce in any sort of control will do.

      I am slowly reaching the conclusion that a large vote for NZ First will be necessary to achieve change. It is highly unlikely that Lab+Green will secure enough votes to govern without NZ First. But if the Greens outpoll NZ First then there is every chance NZ First will partner with National, since Winston Peters would not want to play 3rd-fiddle to Labour and Greens.

      The Greens have been somewhat lacklustre since the departure of Russell Norman, so their share of the vote is likely to stagnate and a fair amount of Green-phobia still exists out there in the electorate. Much as I would like to see Greens come in with strength to implement their forward-looking transport policies, all will be for nought if Winston turns and supports National (again – as he did in 1996).

      And distasteful though it feels to pander to Winston because of what he might do, a 3-way coalition with NZ First as the 2nd partner and Greens 3rd would seem the best chance of getting rid of National and it’s pernicious transport and environmental policies.

      Anyone else have ideas on this?

      1. I have the totally opposite view. I’ll accept a government with almost any flaw as long as it doesn’t contain Winston Peters. He’s basically a well spoken Trump. He gets credit for being a centrist, but he’s only centrist in the sense that he’s equally regressive towards any kind of progress and equally opportunistic to spin up worry and/or hate into votes on any issue. He doesn’t promote any ideals or concepts of shared effort and benefit, only the concept that groups need a strongman to fight for their slice of the pie (us against them). He’s an obstructive force in the middle of our politics, not a constructive one. I hope this is the last election I have to worry about him.

        1. So Camryn, I presume you are not overly concerned about transport policy then? Because it seems pretty clear that another National-led govt will mean more-of-the-same.

          Winston is an unpredictable nuisance with the power that he is likely to have, and he will likely be in any government. But this is how it is, and we will need him to have a chance at getting rid of national.

          1. Yes, I believe Winston to be far worse than National and I’d rather have a continuation of current transport policy than Winston. To use a metaphor, I’d rather live in a house with plumbing that isn’t really good enough than in a house where granddad is actively turning everyone against each other and turning literally every decision into a shallow, cliche-ridden, data-free battle of prejudices. (Note that no-one is going to have the time or money to fix the plumbing in the second house either… granddad will dominate the agenda with polarising nonsense, household income will fall and spending will be on granddad’s vanity items)

      2. I’m not a fan of Winston or NZ First, however I think you are probably right. I think it is inevitable NZ First will get more votes than the Greens, they are already polling quite well and they usually improve in the lead up to the election as Winston is very good at getting attention during a campaign.

        Although the most important thing of course is to get out and vote and vote for the party you think best suits your views. The bigger they are, the more influence they will have in any negotiations for coalitions or supply agreements.

        I think Winston will go for the jugular and request being Prime Minister as part of his negotiations.

        The risk I see of a Labour/NZ First/Green government is that it will probably collapse in a screaming heap and put a Bennett lead National government in power for another 3 terms.

        1. It is unknown how a Lab/NZF/Green govt would perform. You never know, they might surprise us. But yes, there is the possibility that the three parties may be too divergent to work together and yes, National might get back in after 3 years.

          But what is the alternative? National gets yet another term now and does a whole lot more damage. I’d rather give the opposition a chance thanks.

          1. Winston has never seen out a term in the executive… a Lab/Green/NZF government wouldn’t last three years and certainly won’t get to considering transport matters in its brief, painful existence. To get movement on transport, you’d be better off pressuring National to be data-led and pressuring voters to making it a polling issue that National has to respond to.

          2. You predict a lab/Green/NZF govt wouldn’t last 3 years.
            I predict it would, and could go on to win another 3.

            You want National back. I don’t.

            Hooray for the democratic process and that we all get the chance to have a say. Election day will decide!

  3. Mayor Goff was elected on a promise of cutting the very high running costs of Council and allocating more to transport. I wonder how much progress has been made.

    1. Is there a stalemate between AT and NZTA? Each wanting the other to spend more. AT and the Mayor want the light rail to the airport. Is the problem about the approx $1billion cost and a 50:50 split who pays. For the sake of breaking the deadlock and reducing the huge congestion costs I feel AT should increase their contribution as Auckland will benefit the most.

      1. I diagree; the government should agree to lay all of the tracks if AT pay for stations, exactly like the northern busway.

        1. So when you work out the costs of the tracks and stations you will get a ratio 50:50 , 60:40 , 70:30 etc.
          I suggest AC offer to pay more. The taxpayers in Invercargill or Napier are reluctant to pay more and won’t benefit as much as Aucklanders.

          1. I’m reluctant to pay more for roads in Napier and Invercargill yet I still pay for 50% through tax. Remember please that even at 50-50 funding Auckland still pays about 70%.

  4. 9 years of National and we have some of the worst gridlock on our motorways I think I have ever seen but not surprisingly with in excess of 80000 more cars on the road since 2015 at least, and we can be reassured also with their immigration settings another 40000+ cars will be on the road by next year!

    http://www.driven.co.nz/news/news/more-delays-for-big-waterview-connection-opening/ and http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/78241308/43-000-more-cars-on-Aucklands-roads-leads-to-increased-congestion

    At least we know voting for Joyce means spending on next to nothing on anything but motorways (like the $1.4 billion spend up on Waterview that has failed to open on time or anytime soon and the Northwestern refurbishment that reduced the speed you can travel on premium near gold plated motorway to a ridiculous 80 km/hr)

    And any promises of some kind of convoluted PT projects that get underway in one of Nationals distant visions like when Halleys Comet next passes should be treated with contempt .

  5. We really do need a proper sustainable funding model for transport.

    Separating out transport funding might be a good idea, effectively an upgrade on the interim levy. How to make it fair though? The current levy is flat and applies equally to every household whether they get good service from AT or not. I would sooner have three tiers of transport levies, a top tier for locations where AT provides frequent public transport, a lower tier where AT provides less frequent public transport, and a minimum tier where they do little more than roads maintenance and infrequent public transport.

    Then AT could bank on increased funding whenever a public transport service is improved or a frequent service is extended. If the levy is matched dollar for dollar by government, on the basis of savings generated from fewer road deaths and injuries plus reduced carbon emissions, then public transport improvements could potentially become self-funding.

    I think the current zero-sum model, where transport funding comes at the cost of other services, is weak and will always lead to compromises and slow investment in transport. We could do with a funding model that provides provides long term funding security and is fairer than endless rates increases.

    1. That would add admin costs having to have people determine where these areas are, and would also open up endless debate about whether they are correct or not.

      The cost of providing services is often greater per head of population in areas that are spread out, even if their actual levels of service are lesser.

  6. Do we spend enough on transport? Too much?

    I don’t know. What AC and AT need to do is sit down and get a better idea of what the benefits from a $ in transport might be vis a vis a $ in environmental management or a $ in parks.

    As it is, AT keeps sucking up the lion’s share of dollars, most of which goes to enriching private companies (contractors), while other parts of Council, which employ real public servants, are starved for funding.

    What sort of Auckland do we want? One where every dollar seems to go to roads, trains, and buses, or one in which there are a few pennies at least to ensure all-weather sports fields, good frequent rubbish service, rapid response noise control, and all the other things that matter.

    1. This is pretty much what happens when council set the budget. A benefit/cost analysis of every piece of spending would be subjective and ironically would end up being a waste of money.

      The way to decide this is find out what your candidates priorities are in the local body elections and pick the one that is best for you.

      1. No it isn’t what happens when Council sets the budget. What happens is that there is a list of projects and they decide which to fund and which not to fund. It’s called “line by line” accounting.

        I suggest you read some of the audit reports on council plans – in particular, comments about the invisibility of trade-offs in planning documents.

  7. Solution: tolls on roads of national signfacamce
    2. Start a council owned transport company and build more train lines with a fuel tax in Auckland
    Remove traffic lights ! Done!

    1. Waterview really should have had a toll on it. Even if there is no loan to pay off, at the very least it might have helped manage demand, which is I suspect the main cause of the current debacle that means it still hasn’t been opened yet.

      1. But the goal of waterview is to get people to bypass the city/bridge. Do you want to charge them for decreasing congestion?

        1. Fair point. Although I would imagine it would be just as successful at this if demand were managed to a point where it flowed reasonably well.

          1. Surely in that case you would toll the AHB, Newton Gully, and Newmarket Viaduct to encourage people onto Waterview though?

        2. I seriously doubt it will have that effect. People from south eastern Auckland will use that to funnel on to SH16, rather than taking SH1, and people will use their cars more because they funded a road.

          Yeah, they tried to decrease congestion, but overall it will have the effect of increasing it.

  8. There’s a far bigger ideological driver behind Joyce’s remarks and it is the same reason behind Goff’s refusal to consider it as an option. National is still the party that believes in selling assets. Auckland Council has assets, such as shares in the Airport (“22.4% stake worth $1.13 billion as of May 2014” – Wikipedia) and also the Port (100% owned by Auckland Council, worth $848 million – Wikipedia). That’s bang on about $2 billion right there, just waiting to be cherry-picked by the capitalist running dogs i.e. the Banks (no, not John Banks…).

    Quite simply, Joyce is telling Goff – sell those shareholdings and don’t come asking for more money from us. Brownlee did a similar thing in Christchurch (CCC owns 75% of their airport), but again, the Labour-led Council under Dalgleish does not want to divest itself of those assets. Nor does Goff. If he did, the Council would benefit short term, and the taxpayers would suffer long term.

    1. And if Goff and/or Christchurch mayor actually did sell off the cherry assets to build any infra.

      Then as soon as they went to the Government again for ANY funding, Joyce would say “well you sold off your income producing assets, so why should we fund you.” and then of course slam down another RoNS through their city.

      So Auckland and Christchurch are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. And I think Goff and co sense this which is why neither council want to do this.

      Joyce [and Brownlee, English etc] clearly don’t want to have a taxation system that is not universally applied the same everywhere in NZ local fuel taxes [or local council issued freedom camping permits], or giving out some of the GST from overseas tourists to local council to build the public toilets and other infra. those millions of NZ tourists expect to see, would go against the grain big time for such free marketeers.

      Local body rates is the one exception to that and thats an historic thing that Joyce et al know is broken and badly needs reform because LGNZ has been telling them this for decades.
      But it definitely does not need to be “reformed badly” which is EXACTLY what would happen if Joyce or Smith took it on.

      1. what Im sensing is Joyce’s opinion (actual or lobbyist funded im not sure) is Auckland should solve its transport issues with government funded motorways and his primary objective seems to be stopping any alternatives.

      2. Yes to both those comments. Central govt also does not want local govt to have enough resources or power to take them on – hence the long-standing refusal to do anything about other funding mechanisms despite our relative local impoverishment compared with other nations.

        It’s mainly about would-be alpha males with metaphoric tiny weiners feeling threatened, when it comes down to it.

    2. The National government has been pretty consistent about revenue-raising ideas they don’t like, and reluctant to suggest anything they would support (beyond perhaps congestion charging at some point in the indeterminate future). Joyce’s current stance sadly fits pretty well with his track record of not trusting anyone else but central government to spend money wisely (see: constraining what council development levies can pay for, abandoning the R&D tax credit in favour of a grant system where government decides where the money goes).

      The problem with asset sales (which the government does approve of) is that you can only sell them once… and infrastructure needs go on forever. (See every road expansion project creating the need for another road expansion project to relieve a new bottleneck in the network).

      A Labour / Greens government would probably allow a regional fuel tax fairly quickly. The irony of the government’s stance is that they’ve ratcheted up the national excise rates every time NZTA ran low on money.

    3. National does appear to be using “crises ” affecting local authorities as backdoor way to continue its asset sales policy. Has anyone checked cost sharing agreement to see if it contains any fishhook like the ones that reduced the Crown’s horizontal infrastructure contribution in Chch by $755m? Also, the governments disregard of the anchor project target dates in the Chch agreement don’t augur well for AK rail investment.

      To add insult to injury the government appointed Ecan board have buggered up the bus system and refuse to trial commuter rail even on the disused northern line!

  9. The project price quoted from the contractors are way too high compare to other cities in the world.

    Why don’t we have a more competitive tender process to get most value for money? Can we accept chinese construction company to build for us?

    How come most of our projects goes to the preferred consultants?

    1. “Why don’t we have a more competitive tender process to get most value for money? Can we accept chinese construction company to build for us?”

      Yes, we can. Anyone can bid on our contracts and a French company actually has about $1b of the Waikato Expressway, for example.

      “How come most of our projects goes to the preferred consultants?”

      Because most of our projects are under $100k in consultants fees and it’s cheaper to potentially pay a little extra to not have to run a tender.

  10. There are two issues – the amount of money being spent and what it is spent on.
    I think if NZTA spent less on outdated freeway projects there would be enough money to deliver the multiple public transport links a growing Auckland needs. So NZ needs to change what it spends transport money on.

    As for the amount, if Auckland keeps growing at current rates (very high even by world standards) more money is needed. Tax is an ugly word but relevant. The French have a versement (payroll) tax that is collected by the local government to pay for transport infrastructure. So they give the local government the responsibility but also the means to fund the solution. As revenues from traditional road sources like fuel levies decline, income streams like this or parking levies will need to be increasingly looked at.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Versement_transport

  11. Why do these interviewers never ask about the elephant in the room – road pricing. Based on ATAP we have less than 10 years until implementation. This will massively reduce the need for rates funding and new infra. So we are talking about a temp issue. Most major projects being debated now will not even open much before road pricing is implemented.

    1. Road pricing is the answer. Road pricing has always been the answer. Problem is the only thing ATAP actually achieved was to kill road pricing. They didn’t say it like that. They claimed they would adopt technology that doesn’t yet exist- yes really! But for all practical purposes ATAP killed any chance of a cordon system of road pricing.

      1. Singapore has already let a contract for the type of road pricing recommended by ATAP within 10 years. So tech exists. I agree we could have set up cordons as an interim measure but 10 years is not a long time when it comes to Auckland transport. Apparently.

          1. Indeed. And that is noteworthy for those who argue we need to build a big list of PT projects before we can implement road pricing. Road Pricing (a primitive version) preceded MRT in Singapore.

    2. And the projects needed regardless of road pricing are the ones the current govt refuses to allow – separated public transit. Clowns.

    1. But seriously – if Auckland did secede from the rest of the country, the cow-cockies would be ecstatic! They’re always complaining about the “bloody Aucklanders”. Tell you what though – the price you pay for electricity would go up quite a bit….

  12. And the price of fuel would go up to the rest of the country once Ak negotiated a price based on the Auckland usage and cost effectiveness of delivery.

  13. There’s obviously many issues related to funding Auckland’s immediate transport needs – but it seems the current government is actually the main impediment to progress.

    Maybe Greater Auckland should release an ‘Auckland Transport Election Policy Platform’ and PR it the same as you did for CFN 2.

    It should be simple bullet points essentially, so it’s easy to understand.
    For example:
    -We support a regional fuel tax/or maintaining targeted levy
    -We support retaining Council Assets
    -We support CFN2
    -We oppose the current East/West link as uneconomic and locally destructive
    …etc

    With the right awareness campaign, this platform could become a key debating subject for all candidates across Auckland. They would be asked to give it their unqualified support.

    I know your aim is to remain above partisan politics but this election comes at a very critical point, we could implement these policies and kickstart even more positive transformation of our city, or stick with the current direction and potentially throw away much of that opportunity for another generation (maybe forever).

    I’m sure many, many Aucklanders would get behind it, and vote according to how candidates responded to it. If National is made to realise this, then they may adapt and soften their position, which would be a win also.

  14. I think that Aucklanders and New Zealanders need to understand that under Key, English and Bridges as Minister of Transport, there has been at least some attempt to bury the ideological hatchet in regard to roads, public transport and rail. With Joyce in the critical power broker role as Minister of Finance and Minister for Infrastructure, don’t expect this relatively benign period to continue if National get another crack at running the country.

    I can’t for the life of me see why National chose this ‘Muldoonist’ to be Minister of Finance. Memories are short indeed. Be scared New Zealand, be very scared.

  15. Interesting to see that Labour is possibly in full PT support mode.
    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11845437

    “I think NZTA don’t know what is going to happen to traffic volumes at peak hours when they open those tunnels. There is a real risk we may see at peak times severe congestion, particularly on the northwestern motorway,” Twyford said.

    He said NZTA and the Government had not learned that if you just build more motorways without a rapid transit system, the motorways fill up with cars and cannot cope with peak-hour demand.

    “That’s why we have had this debate about the unbelievably stupid decision not to build a rapid transit busway on the SH16 when they did the widening,” Twyford said.

  16. This is a personnel problem in the National party. At present we have Joyce, Brownlee, Bennett, English, all hillbillies. Joyce from New Plymouth, moves to Auckland but needs to live on a lifestyle property in half rural Auckland. He is the kind that whine about Auckland but needs to live here. The one that want Auckland to be provincial but still have a vibrant city centre (a city centre you can drive on a motorway to and park right on the street outside of course).

    The younger cadres in National aren’t like that, many are well traveled and knows that we need decent public transport in Auckland. But we need to wait for a generational change before the newer cadre takes over in National.

    With the shore voting almost progressively in the local elections you would have thought Labour would take notice. Fertile ground youd say.
    But this is Labour, the Wellington intelligentia, has responded by sending two completely distant Wellington candidates to stand for Upper Harbour and East Coast Bay. Very progressive, one wasn’t even a labour member until asked to stand. Just out of the Wellington labours playbook where a candidate attacked Littles recruitment of a popular maori lad by hiring a PR agency. So instead of some serious pressure o National in Auckland, they will cruise and win electorates that had some potential. The current two candidates doesn’t stand a chance of course since they are as far from representative of their wards as you can come.

    Its a pity, I really saw potential in Labour on the shore. In the council elections it has voted for good progressive candidates. But Labour cant win when these are the candidates they elect. Its like they want to loose.

    The Upper Harbour lady is a star though, she started by saying that the new transport ship of the NZ Navy would cost 5 billion (450 million) which was more than the total healthcare budget (16 billions). Great fact check there.
    She also didn’t know that her constituency borders/partly includes the airforce largest base and her comments ended up plastered on their whiteboards with a question if this was the lady they wanted representing them. She followed that up by sharing the greens platform for immigration (almost opposite of the one Labour is about to present). You couldn’t make it up…

    Labour have elected a decent candidate to challenge Jonathan Coleman though.
    Filippino with lots of community connections and strong church backing. Not enough to unseat Coleman but a good candidate that will increase the Labour vote in the ward.

  17. Even the councils 100 page docs don‘t have sufficient detail. It is impossible to work out where all the money goes. Hence Penny Brights campaign.
    The council needs to open up its books properly before any increase in rates or introducing new taxes is considered.

    1. You’re wrong. The Annual/Long Term Plans have very good information about monetary spend; I’d like some equivalent to central government output costing as well though.

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