Super-city on the way
Porirua voters thought they were electing a three-year city council.
Not if the governmentappointed Local Government Commission has its way. The council may have less than two years to live.
On November 14, the commissioners consulted the Porirua public. That is, the few who knew about the meeting.
It was clear that the commissioners had already decided on a Wellington super-city with a second tier of local boards.
The commission gave us two other clues in November.
For Northland it has proposed a unitary council with only 10 members and seven community boards, to be elected in October 2015. And for Hawke’s Bay it has proposed a unitary council with only 10 members and five community boards, to be elected in October 2015.
Community boards are powerless.
For Porirua, the commissioners are talking about local boards, not community boards. There is a subtle difference. Local boards can have limited decision-making powers for non-regulatory functions, if the council hands over those powers.
The fact that the commissioners are talking up local boards gives another clue.
Local boards are available only to unitary councils with a population of more than 400,000.
The commission will shortly announce its super-city proposal and spell the end of district-level democracy.
The commissioners will deflect criticism by pointing to a local board, but there is no equivalence between a local board and a council.