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Riots, transport, social media, graffiti...

GEORGE WOOD is a North Shore ward councillor on the new Auckland Council.
The former three-term mayor of North Shore City lives in Forrest Hill with wife Myra.

London Riots
The recent rioting by young thugs, hoodlums and criminals in London and other English main centres is a real wakeup call to Governments and local councils in other cities around the world.  Many Aucklanders will recall the 1984 Queen Street riot, which started off when an “end of year” free concert for youngsters got out of control.
As leaders in our community Auckland councillors have a huge responsibility to ensure that people do live in an environment where hope for the future does exist.  Unemployment levels across the Auckland region has increased for all ages to 7.9% whereas the average across the whole country is 7.2%.
Finding work for people I appreciate isn’t a core function of Auckland Council but we can help in providing an environment where businesses and the overall economy are able to grow.  Getting people into work so they get a weekly pay packet does wonders for community well being.
Public Transport Experiences
When elected to Auckland Council I decided that I would try out the public transport system on a regular basis.  I am now hooked, like so many other North Shore people, and most of the times now leave my car at home.  As a councillor it is a great way to also get first hand knowledge of the pitfalls in the system.  I can leave my home at 8.20am, walk to the Sunnynook Bus Station and be at a meeting at the Auckland Town Hall by 9am.
This last week I’ve been out to Manurewa on the train for a 9am meeting; the journey taking 80 minutes from my home to the meeting venue.  Yes, there is the inconvenience of having to plan the journey (I use the MAXX on line journey planner) but I am very impressed with the improvements in the service across the Auckland region.
Must say that I was also very pleased to hear Murray Deaker saying that he is a convert to using the bus in traveling to Eden Park from Takapuna for major rugby fixtures.
Facebook and Twitter
People keep saying that you should never post anything on Facebook or Twitter that you would not want in the news media.  For about the last year I have been a regular follower on Twitter and Facebook, which I find intriguing communications systems.  The fact that one can easily post photographs onto Facebook is a wonderful way of trying to explain issues and happenings to a wider audience.
Recently the NZ Herald had a story that had comments partly sourced from my Facebook page. It really proved the point that you have to be so careful not to get carried away but it also illustrated the power of this new social media.  I have Twitter connected to my Facebook page, which means that any tweets I post are automatically posted onto my Facebook homepage.
Graffiti Cleanup
I am really proud of the work that is being done to clean up graffiti across the Auckland region.  This is the coming together of lots of people; especially volunteer groups to eradicate graffiti as it happens. The old adage that taggers loose heart if their tags go the next day is really working.  I have traveled on both the southern and western rail lines recently and am really impressed with the improvements.
At the meeting of the Community Safety Forum, which I chair, in February we decreed to get tough on graffiti right across the Auckland region.  Then in June an excellent document and plan was developed by representatives of the Auckland Council graffiti project in association with KiwiRail, the Department of Corrections and Ministry of Justice.  The results achieved to date are excellent and the rail corridors are looking far better.

by George Wood