Democ­racy at stake

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Staff re­porters

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

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