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Glenvar Road deferred again

I am mounting another campaign to get Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to put the Glenvar Road upgrade back on the agenda. #GreenLightGlenvar

The upgrade and realignment of Glenvar Road, and the signalising of the Glamorgan Drive intersection, is long overdue.

In recent years, the development at Long Bay has put enormous pressure on the road and made it even more dangerous. Our community came together in 2018 when we packed into the Long Bay Baptist Church to let Auckland Transport know this was a critical upgrade. Over 2,000 people signed a petition which Julia Parfitt and I presented to Auckland Transport’s Capital Review Committee.

We were all delighted when the project was given the green light and a priority rating in the Regional Land Transport Plan.

Initial design and consultation work got underway in 2019 and in late February this year I spent a morning with Auckland Transport on-site going over some of the

design flaws that residents had brought up with me. These flaws were fixed in a revised design and geotechnical work was underway just before the country was put into lockdown. After all the hard work to get this close, I was absolutely gutted to see the project deferred indefinitely in the Auckland Council Emergency Budget released on 29 May.

COVID-19 has significantly affected Auckland Council’s revenue. The Emergency Budget prepared in May makes cuts across all Council services including transport projects. Glenvar Road was named as one of four projects that will be indefinitely delayed.

I have heard stories from hundreds of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and residents about accidents, near misses and traffic chaos. This upgrade has never been a nice-to-have project. It is an essential safety upgrade that has been put off for decades. Auckland Transport must reprioritise this project and have work underway in 2021 as they promised.

Once again, I need your help.

Please head to www.GreenLightGlenvar.co.nz where you will find a link to Auckland Council’s online submission form on the Emergency Budget. You can either write your own submission or use the form submission text we have completed for you.

The more community voices we have behind us, the greater chance we have of success. I will also be submitting to Council in-person alongside our Local Board members.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT TO #GreenLightGlenvar

SUBMISSIONS CLOSE 19 JUNE 2020

New leadership for National

In May, National MPs elected Todd Muller as party leader and Nikki Kaye as deputy leader. Many of you will know Nikki as the MP for Auckland Central and as a minister in the John Key-led Government, most recently as our last Education Minister. Nikki is fiercely intelligent, determined and one of the hardest-working MPs in Parliament.

Todd Muller is a little newer to politics, elected in 2014 as the MP for Bay of Plenty after working in senior leadership roles at Zespri and Fonterra. I worked closely with Todd on the environment select committee when he was our spokesperson for climate change. I was incredibly impressed by the way he navigated the complexity of the subject and how he worked collaboratively with Climate Change Minister James Shaw of the Green Party to get the Zero Carbon Bill to a position where it could attract near-unanimous support in Parliament.

I am looking forward to working closely with the new leadership team over the next few months, particularly in my new portfolio areas of Internal Affairs and Associate Conservation. I’m delighted to keep my responsibilities for urban water issues as Associate Environment spokesperson.

As we plan our economic recovery and map out a new future for our country, we must keep the protection of our environment and the sustainable use of our resources at the forefront of our thinking. The lockdown period brought into sharp focus the impact of human activity on our environment and how treading more lightly on the land can bring about incredibly quick and wonderful results. I’m acutely aware of how our economy and environment are inextricably linked and I’m excited about continuing to be a part of National’s environment team.

 

Birdman jump to support Community Patrol

As always, the annual Birdman competition at Murrays Bay Wharf was a stunning and fun day out. It was even more exciting (and terrifying) for me this year though, because I took the leap to raise money for North Harbour Community Patrol.

Alexis Poppelbaum (Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member) and I soared off the wharf in a makeshift, briefly-airborne Community Patrol car. We didn’t break any records for longest jump or win any awards for vehicle design, and our car unfortunately didn’t turn out to be that water-resistant, but we did manage to raise enough money for the North Harbour Community Patrol to purchase a much-needed second patrol vehicle.

I’m incredibly grateful to everyone in the community who donated through our Givealittle page or supported us on the day, and especially to our main sponsors Harcourts Cooper & Co and North Harbour Vehicles who will supply the car. Thanks also to New World Browns Bay for their donation and New World Long Bay for supplying the sausages for our sizzle.

 

ECB community comes together during lockdown

This newsletter was due to be printed just before lockdown, so you’ll notice much of what I write dates back to earlier in the year.

It’s hard to sum up the unimaginable events of the two months since then, other than to acknowledge they will change the course of New Zealand for the next decade.

I’m extremely proud of the way the East Coast Bays community pulled together.

We organised over 200 volunteers to phone nearly 5,500 households with people aged over-60 to check on their wellbeing. A big shout out to Rachelle Luxford who provided many of the volunteers through her Community Kindness North Shore Facebook page.

A further team of 30 volunteers delivered prescriptions and collected groceries for people who couldn’t shop. Shopping was enabled by the generosity of New World Long Bay and New World Browns Bay opening an hour early on Wednesdays especially for us.

Level 2 has seen more of our local firms resume trading, but there is still a very rocky road ahead for most.

Businesses have seen their revenue massively reduced or lost altogether, while their fixed costs – rent being one of the highest – have remained. They are owned by and employ locals and desperately need support from the community and certainty from the Government.

It’s crucial we continue to give them our custom and shop local as much as we possibly can.

My focus is supporting our community in every way I can through what will inevitably be tough times to come.

The same kindness, positive attitude and generous spirit we are known for in the Bays will help as we get back on our feet.

 

Inquiry into Auckland’s polluted beaches

Decades of inaction and under-investment have caused Auckland’s water infrastructure to decline dramatically. We feel that acutely in the Bays – high risk alerts are in place all too often for our beaches after pipes break and leach sewage into the stormwater network. You will remember the closure of Browns Bay for months on end before Christmas last year as the most recent example.

This problem is about to be exacerbated as the Auckland Council Emergency Budget proposes to reduce funding for water infrastructure and maintenance.

For over a year I have worked hard to take the issues to the authorities and get answers. I have analysed the testing data, visited the overflow sites and met with experts and officials in local government, the private sector and community groups to build my understanding of the problems.

I am hugely proud that Parliament’s environment select committee voted for my motion in March to open a powerful and wide-ranging inquiry into Auckland’s polluted beaches. The inquiry will allow the Environment Committee to hold a detailed investigation into the chronic problems with Auckland’s urban water network and hear evidence from officials and members of the community.

While it was disappointing that Labour and NZ First MPs opposed the inquiry, I managed to get it over the line following behind-the-scenes negotiations with the Green Party member of the committee.

Unfortunately COVID-19 has meant we have run out of time before the end of the parliamentary term to undertake the inquiry, but I will ensure it is back on the committee’s agenda in the next Parliament.

I am really looking forward to hearing from scientists, the local authorities and the public to identify the solutions. The inquiry must bring about better communication, greater transparency and more accountability. Public safety cannot continue to be put at risk any longer.

I will keep my website updated with the inquiry’s progress: www.EricaStanfordMP.co.nz/beaches

Sciences must be saved at Massey's Albany Campus

A proposal to scrap the sciences at Massey University’s Albany campus has understandably caused enormous community outcry.

Massey’s Palmerston North-based senior leadership team dumped a discussion document outlining the plan on staff and students on the very first day of Semester One this year. I am seriously concerned by the accuracy of the financial data underpinning the document and the deeply flawed process that has been followed.

I personally accepted a petition from Massey Albany faculty staff signed by 13,000 people calling for the proposal to be withdrawn. The petition has since been referred to Parliament’s education select committee which I am a member of.

In May we heard from the Massey Albany petitioners who painted a very disturbing picture of questionable financial data and process problems and highlighted the importance to New Zealand young people studying STEM subjects.

Later in the month we heard from members of Massey’s senior leadership and were able to question them about the plans. I was not satisfied with the answers they gave and have submitted more questions in writing to get further detail. We have also called the Ministry of Education to advise the committee.

If we are serious about evolving to an innovation-led economy, we need more great science faculties, not fewer. The science students and staff based at Massey Albany add huge value – enhancing our agri-food sector; attracting prestigious awards and research funding; doing a great deal of local outreach and community education; and working in marine conservation and environmental protection (which is particularly close to my heart).

Massey’s senior leadership team has yet to present any data or reasoning that convinces me the proposal to axe science teaching at Massey Albany won’t be a devastating and damaging move.

The sciences absolutely must be saved at Massey Albany and I will continue to advocate strongly on the staff and students’ behalf. #SaveAlbanyScience

New North Harbour Hockey Centre

Minister for Sport, Grant Robertson, came to officially open the new National Hockey Centre in Rosedale. The world class facilities are absolutely outstanding and will hopefully encourage more young people into the sport.

Huge credit is due to Riki Burgess of North Harbour Hockey and to Lisa Whyte and Margaret Miles of the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board who were instrumental in getting the project across the line. I can’t wait to play on the new surfaces next season!

New library at Pinehurst School

In February I was honoured to help open the new Pinehurst School library along with Principal Alex Reid and past Principal Sherida Penman-Walters.

The library has been designed with every child’s learning style in mind – social spaces, private hideaways and books galore.

 

Long Bay Primary present to select committee

Late last year, Long Bay Primary’s Room 19 presented a petition to Parliament’s Environment Committee, calling for the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve to be extended to include Winstones Cove and Waiake Beach.

I was so impressed by the enormous amount of research and work the Room 19 students had put into their submission and their passion for protecting our precious environment and marine life.

Our select committee has prepared a report for the Minister of Conservation urging her to seriously consider this proposal.

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