Monday, April 22, 2024

Final chance to share views on Howick Local Board’s draft plan

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The Howick Local Board, including chairperson Damian Light, pictured fourth from right, wants to hear what the community thinks of its draft Local Board Plan. Photo supplied Auckland Council

People have one last chance to have their say on a document that details the Howick Local Board’s strategy and goals for the next three years.

The first round of public feedback on its draft Local Board Plan 2023 informed the document, with phase two of the consultation process running from July 13 to August 14.

It will be finalised and adopted in October before coming into effect in July next year.

Board chairperson Damian Light previously told the Times it’s divided into five areas, being people, environment, community, places, and economy.

Integrated into those categories are efforts to ensure the board contributes to climate mitigation and meets its legal obligations to Maori.

He says the plan is critical as it helps to inform not just local residents but also Auckland Council about what’s important to this community.

“The plan says what we’re looking for, what we need to deliver on, and gives direction to the rest of council about what our priorities are.”

Board deputy chairperson Bo Burns says its members have been working hard and talking to residents at public events.

“We have a strong grasp and direction from the large volume of feedback already collated, and I’m feeling comfortable with the draft plan.

“Like anything, practice makes perfect, so this is people’s last chance to let us know if they have strong opinions or areas they think we may have missed, or positive support in any areas covered off in this document.

“One key area I’ve taken away from the [council’s] emergency budget is a strong focus on working with a more collaborative approach with stakeholders, community groups, businesses and residents.”

In his introduction to the plan, Light says the Howick ward’s population has grown, but many of its community assets have not kept pace and are struggling to cope.

“The most urgent need is the Flat Bush Library and Community Centre.

“We must take a more strategic approach to the management of our assets over the long term to meet future needs.

“We need to consider how we maximise the benefits of our existing assets to unlock new opportunities and address inequity.”

He says the board is committed to increasing its engagement and visibility, and creating more opportunities to talk to people about the issues that matter to them.

“Local boards have recently been granted greater decision-making powers, including more control over our budgets.

“This should mean greater visibility, accountability, and responsiveness.

“However, we must also recognise our annual budgets have reduced significantly in recent years so we will embrace the challenge of doing more with less by using innovative and creative approaches.”

Light says the board will look for more partnerships and local procurement.

“We’re determined to improve the financial sustainability of local groups, which means true empowerment for communities.

“We believe we’ve captured what the public has asked for.

“Please tell us if we’ve missed or misunderstood anything, or if we’ve got it right.”

The board is holding a community Have Your Say event during the consultation period.

It’s at Highland Park Community House, 47 Aviemore Drive, from 2pm-4pm on Friday, August 4.

People can share their view on the draft plan by going online here.

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