One city plan ‘stinks’
A PLAN to scrap community boards and radically cut the number of elected members has been labelled an attack on grassroots democracy.
The proposal by Auckland City Council staff advocates cutting the region’s 264 elected representatives to just 26, headed by a lord mayor.
The draft submission to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance has yet to be signed off by politicians.
The plan would see Auckland’s authorities combined into a single Greater Auckland Council.
The would be split into 21 “neighbourhoods”, roughly based on parliamentary electorates, each represented by a single seat on the council.
The neighbourhoods would also be grouped into four geographical areas, each headed by an area mayor.
Western Bays Community Board chairman Bruce Kilmister says the plan would destroy grassroots democracy in Auckland.
“In sum, it stinks,” he says. “Local government will no longer be local.”
He says the would combine the Hobson, Western Bays, Waiheke Island and Great Barrier wards into one.
The four wards now have 27 elected community board members and councillors.
“All of them will be replaced with one neighbourhood councillor. It would be an impossible task.”
Mr Kilmister, who will respond to the council on behalf of community board chairpersons, says the proposal it puts too much power in the hands of officers.
City Vision councillors also oppose the proposal, saying one person can’t represent a ward of about 60,000 people.
“We’re busy enough now,” says councillor Cathy Casey.
“Within Eden-Albert we’ve got hundreds of different neighbourhoods. It makes a nonsense of the whole idea of communities.”
Western Bays councillor Graeme Easte says there’s been no call from the public to reduce local representation.
“If you only have one point of contact and that person is right into sport, you might have a bit of a mismatch in getting them interested in your theatre project.”
Deputy mayor David Hay says radical changes are needed, and the plan has potential.
“What’s happening now regionally is not working,” he says. “It’s a good starting point.”
The plan would mean sports and cultural groups would apply to only one body for funding.
He says the communities could be well-represented by a single councillor, backed by staff and area committees.
There would be neighbourhood offices in each of the 21 wards to provide staff support to the councillor.
The proposal will be reported to the regional governance committee tomorrow.
Mr Hay says feedback is encouraged before the council signs off the proposal on April 17.
The public can make submissions to the commission by April 22.
Go to www.royalcommis sion.govt.nz.