Measures to improve safety in West Auckland

I was deeply saddened by the senseless killing of Henderson dairy owner Arun Kumar (on June 10) and understand that the community in West Auckland has been shaken by this incident.

Editor’s Note: A related story by Labour MP Phil Goff appears in this Section.

My priority is to support the family of Mr Kumar and ensure that something positive is done about the issues faced by Henderson.

The West has a long tradition of working together to meet community challenges and we are calling on that again now. The pride that people in the West feel in their communities has been evident in meeting held recently.

Combined efforts

I have had meetings with a strong attendance from community and business leaders, the police and representatives of young people. All the agencies including the Police are committed to supporting the work as we move forward.

Among the measures agreed is to include a stronger public police presence in Henderson alongside youth workers, Maori and Pacific wardens and Council staff.

We must assure people of their safety including that of retailers in Henderson, particularly in the main street and around the train station.

Not forgotten

I am sad to hear some voices saying that Henderson has been forgotten in the Super City amalgamation. This is not the case. We are investing more into the West Auckland community and the ongoing discussions that I would have with local business owners will focus on the wider issues of business investment in the Town Centre and the look and feel of Henderson.

Youth Summit

We are also organising a youth summit to discuss the ways and means of providing support for young people and setting parameters for behaviour in the Town Centre.

I believe that sometimes out of the worst of things can come the very best of things. We would not want Mr Kumar’s death to be in vain.

Cremation law

Last month, the proposed new Cemetery and Crematoria Bylaw understandably triggered a reaction from the wider Auckland community.

I would like to alleviate your fears and assure you that despite the extreme headlines, commonsense will prevail in decisions concerning the delicate issues of burials.

We can find a way through without a heavy-handed application of bylaws, recognising that people will spread ashes of their loved ones in the sea, in different places around the community, and we must not overly intrude in their period of grieving.

Public submissions on the review of the new Bylaw closed on June 12 and officers are now reviewing feedback and planning hearings.

When Auckland Council formed in 2010, it inherited eight separate bylaws for burials from legacy Councils. Changes to the bylaw and code of practice is about standardising existing legacy bylaw requirements, and creating regional consistency while retaining a cemetery manager’s discretion to reflect the variation of practices.

Reducing regulation

I can assure you that the exercise is not about extending bureaucracy where it is not needed or about boosting council income. In fact, the aim was to reduce regulation and introduce flexibility where possible.

Take for example the two-person limit on the number of family members witnessing the cremation. This is as much due to space limitations as to safety.

However, we understand this restriction on numbers around the casket as it enters the furnace would be violating a 5000-year-old Hindu custom where it is the family’s responsibility to assist the deceased on their journey.

I want to stress that there is room for flexibility and additional family members can be accommodated in most circumstances.

It is now the responsibility of the hearings panel to consider all views with sensitivity and respect, and settle upon a bylaw that provides guidance for council-owned cemeteries and crematoria.

Len Brown is Mayor of Auckland. The above article is exclusive to Indian Newslink.

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