Democracy at stake
PLANS to get rid of Auckland’s community boards have raised fears local issues will be ignored.
Under the system proposed by the Royal Commission into Auckland Governance, released on Friday, most community boards would be abolished and replaced by six local councils.
Each local council would each have two representatives sitting on a new regionwide council – the Auckland Council – and one mayor would preside over the entire city.
But getting rid of forums at a local level will leave residents with nowhere to voice their concerns, say central Auckland’s community board representatives.
Mt Roskill Community Board chairman Richard Barter says the proposed model would create a “huge distance” between those making the decisions and those affected by them.
“When that happens, people become disconnected. They lose the ability to be part of the future of their community and that’s the sad thing.
“The people themselves in Mt Roskill know what Mt Roskill needs.”
He says Auckland needs a regional council but he would like to see community councils formed with elected representatives and local offices to deal with the area’s issues.
“So many people have put so many years of work into the local community. All that talent, all that knowledge – these people are the glue that binds the local people and the democratic process.
“What’s being proposed will unstick the people from that process. The whole system will lose legitimacy.”
Under the proposal only three community boards would exist – on Great Barrier Island, Waiheke Island and a new board for the central city and waterfront, extending back to Ponsonby Rd and K Rd.
Avondale Community Board chairman Duncan Macdonald says the boards are the last link between the community and local government.
“It will be more difficult for Joe Public to access a politician. That is a definite.
“The report says elected people would have to find innovative ways of communi- cating with people. That in my opinion means nothing but put it on a website. It’s not good enough.”
Bridget Graham, chairwoman of the Maungakiekie Community Board, says she is “extremely disappointed” with the plan.
“It takes more power away from the local level, it even takes the word ‘local’ out of it. It means less power to the people. This is bad news for the local people.”
Eden-Albert Community Board chairman Christopher Dempsey is also disappointed.
“The Eden-Albert board has very effective representation and there is a multitude of ways the public can approach us. They see community boards as an insurance policy in their back pocket.
“On the other hand, the council has an in-town, outof-sight policy,” he says.
“The community board is much more approachable while the council is too remote.”
The government will decide in the next fortnight whether to adopt the recommendations.
Auckland Governance: The main points P3