Local democracy seems to have been forgotten in the Royal Commission on Auckland’s Governance.
The commission advocates slashing the number of elected representatives for Auckland’s 1.4 million people from 261 from 126. This is to be achieved by abolishing the community boards and some councillors.
Most of Western Europe has fewer than 1000 residents per elected representative. An Auckland supercity will have more than 11,000 per representative.
The report is silent on how the community interaction will continue or who will do it. All the many community tasks undertaken by local representatives, from lobbying for new parks, engaging with community groups, safety improvements, organising local festivals, to explaining zone changes, seem to have been overlooked.
In their haste for change the commissioners have forgotten the important day-today functions and roles that make local governance work at neighbourhood level. Communities don’t find it easy to be heard, but with half the number of elected people to speak for them, disengagement, cynicism and non-voting will only increase. And the local will be gone from local government.