Residents stepping up to shape their community

The Flat Bush Ratepayers and Residents Association is led by president Lloyd Ratnaraja, left, and vice president Yuva Adhikary. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Reducing crime, stopping illegal rubbish dumping, and getting people to work together to solve local problems are the focus of a newly formed community group in east Auckland.

The Flat Bush Ratepayers and Residents Association is led by president Lloyd Ratnaraja, vice president Yuva Adhikary, and secretary April Aryal.

The officially incorporated group also has a treasurer and several members and recently held its inaugural meeting at Ormiston Town Centre.

“We want to make the local community safer, make our environment cleaner … and engage with people and raise awareness about how they can play a role so everyone is collaborating,” Ratnaraja says.

“We advocate for the community but we also play a role in empowering people to work with the association, the Howick Local Board, Auckland Council, and police to take ownership of local issues and not just say this is a problem someone else needs to fix.”

He says increasing safety in the suburb is a major focus for the group.

“We’ve seen a lot of posts on the Grapevine [Facebook page] around breaking into cars and people stealing little stuff like pot plants sitting outside driveways, people hanging around construction areas and breaking into them, and retail shops being broken into.

“We want to create an awareness programme and set up a community watch in people’s streets and neighbourhoods and connect through simple things such as [messaging service] WhatsApp and work with local police. It’s about playing an active role.”

Adhikary says he’s seen many changes in Flat Bush including it transforming from farmland to a “lovely, beautiful town”.

“People from different backgrounds live in this area and some may not be aware of local issues and connections and how they can report crime or dumped rubbish.

“We can be the people on the ground, taking with the community and helping to pick up those issues.”

The group has written to the Howick Local Board detailing what it says are the main issues in Flat Bush that need to be addressed.

It told the board while it appreciates its efforts to address local issues, residents “feel more needs to be done to improve road safety, clean streets and streams, plant more trees, create awareness among young people to prevent illegal garbage dumping, and involve communities in the journey towards better living”.

The association says it will advocate for construction timeframes of the delayed Flat Bush Aquatic and Leisure Centre, as well as the Flat Bush Community Centre and Library, to be brought forward.

While the suburb is expected to be a planned township with modern facilities and lifestyles, the works in most new subdivisions have not occurred in sequential order, inconveniencing the public, it says.

The group says 5000 residents living east of Te Uho o te Nikau Primary School in Flat Bush School Road are without access to public transport bus services and that’s an example of the problems that need to be rectified.

People keen to get involved with the Flat Bush Ratepayers and Residents Association can email flatbushrra@gmail.com.