Su­per-city on the way

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

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.

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