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Board workshops set to become public again

Flagstaff Team

Transparency returns… Ruth Jackson

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board workshops will soon be open once again to the public.

Ruth Jackson will take over as board chair from Aidan Bennett from May. The mid-term swap was agreed after their election in 2019, when the Heart of the Shore ticket of Jackson, Jan O’Connor and Trish Deans gained three of the six seats on the board.

Jackson gave an overview of what her priorities for the board would be, when she spoke at a meeting of the Devonport Community Trust this month. Open democracy was top of the list, she said, with workshops a great place for people to learn more about the background to decision-making.

At the board’s monthly meeting, agenda items are more often rubber-stamped than explained. Jackson said if the public attended workshops, they would be better able to give timely feedback to board members on matters they may have knowledge about.

“I look at the local board being a collaboration with the community, not us dictating,” she said. “It’s giving the community the absolutely best chance to know what is going on.” To help with this, workshop topics would be notified publicly in advance.

Media and public access to the workshop meetings was overturned at the start of the board’s term, with Bennett using his casting vote to break a 3-3 split. Jackson said she would do the same when her time as chair started if she was not able to persuade Bennett, George Wood and Toni van Tonder to support the move to reopen the meetings.

Other matters Jackson wants to focus on include continuing the advocacy already underway for better water quality and cleaner beaches. This was being done in conjunction with the Kaipatiki Local Board to ensure North Shore got “a fair crack” of Auckland Council’s targeted water rate.

Better bus services and putting the brakes on the stripping of council assets were other priorities, she said.

Jackson told the trust meeting that work currently in the pipeline in the local area included improvements to playgrounds, such as the one at Devonport Domain, and toilets for Laketown Green in Hauraki. The development of a community-resilience plan, prompted by Covid-19, was also coming along well, she said.

This article originally appeared in the 26 February 2021 edition of the Flagstaff. Read online here.

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