Here are our thoughts after attending the Auckland Council hearings, held at the beautiful Auckland Town Hall, on the Auckland Council Draft – Long Term Plan.
It was good to see a lot of other bee-keepers today at the meeting, and as we found out it was one of many hearings held by the Auckland Council across the city. I believe the other meetings would have had a similar number of bee-keepers, gardeners and bee enthusiasts who are opposed to the bee fee. We established from the information, that there were 158 submissions altogether and interestingly and quite humbling…we saw that the majority of submitters used the form that we had created…thanks guys 🙂 We also saw and spoke to Kim, John and Kevin from the Auckland Bee Club as well. Kevin brought along a jar of honey to share, which we think was a great idea. Kim said she was going to inspect the bees on top of the Town Hall while she was there. The hearings were set up in what they called a “forum” type method, where there were several tables set-up and each table had a “chair” being a councillor, and a “scribe” to take notes. They explained that because there were such a large amount of submissions, this was considered the best way to enable all submitters to speak to their submissions. It appeared informal, however they did allow us the freedom to speak in support or disagreement of other submissions which we felt was a bonus. The councillors on our table were Cllr Calum Penrose and Cllr Sir John Walker.
It was wonderful to see and hear that there were submitters who came from all over the city with different concerns about the draft plan. I had my opportunity to speak to my submission, but as Margaret’s turn began, Cllr Penrose said that he was told that the bee fee was not going to go ahead, so Margaret did not get her opportunity to present her submission. Both Margaret and myself expressed our approval at hearing this news, however wanted to receive this information in writing, Cllr Penrose said he would arrange that. Mayor Len Brown sat at our table, (seen here next to Margaret) and took some questions. The obvious question was about the gambling issue/casino/”national” convention centre. His response was that the council had gone back to (central) government to ask for more information, and that Auckland Council were waiting on their response.
We think the “forum” process was a good one. We are hopeful that the bee fee will be removed but rather unfortunately even after our persistent attempts to get the “decision” in writing whilst also having emails sent to several various council staff, none of them has given us that decision in writing, and rather boringly keep referring to the “Rodney Bylaw” which in our opinion, has nothing to do with what the draft plan states in black and white. …watch this space because we are still following up for everyone and once we get their decision we will let you know…. On our way out of the Town Hall we congratulated the Mayor on being an advocate for the bees and we hoped the fee would be removed, his response “…we will do our best…” so there is hope that this fee will be removed from the Auckland Council Draft – Long Term Draft Plan !
We got an email from Ian Farrell – Team Manager Environmental Health at Auckland Council regarding the bee fee. All this confirmed was that the fee derived from a bylaw from the legacy Rodney Council. So no real answer there ! The email also confirmed that he was unsure whether this was going to be removed in the upcoming bylaw “harmonisation” review (no date for this given within his email)…..we will be watching this closely….and let you know how this goes, be prepared to put pen to paper if the council try to put the fee through this avenue…. In our view council need to give us a definitive decision in writing to our submissions…not just lip service. Note: Cllr Penrose said submissions were still being worked through until 23 May 2012. …as soon as we have more info on the Bee Fee issue we will let you know…be prepared as the battle continues…..
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Gary is the web designer and chief Propeller-head at kiwimana. He enjoys designing products which solve problems and is passionate about saving the Bees and encouraging urban beekeeping. Gary loves to write about issues that affect the Bees and our environment. He is one of the hosts of the kiwimana buzz Beekeeping podcast.