One city plan ‘stinks’

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Heather McCracken

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.

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