Waiheke independence bid frustrates
Our Waiheke is frustrated at being locked out of the process to decide on the island’s bid for a council of its own.
The Local Government Commission has informed Our Waiheke and North Rodney Action Group that it will not accept further input on their applications to break away from Auckland Council at this stage. The commission released a report in July from Morrison Low consultants that dismissed the two applications to break away from the Supercity as not being ‘‘practicable options’’.
The two groups campaigning for independence raised concerns about the Morrison Low report and the commission agreed to a peer review of the report. However, the commission then closed its doors, refusing to reveal which company will be reviewing the Morrison Low report or to discuss the review findings, Our Waiheke spokesperson John Meeuwsen said.
Local Government Commission chief executive Suzanne Doig said in a letter on November 2 that it would be ‘‘procedurally unfair’’ to meet only with the two groups, when the commission has an obligation to ‘‘the community as a whole’’. The commission decided that the whole of Auckland is affected by the two applications for small areas to break away from Auckland Council.
The Morrison Low report stated that a Waiheke unitary council would operate at a deficit of $6.4 million the first year and rates would need to increase on the island by 43 per cent in the first year to cover the cost. A North Rodney unitary authority would have a deficit of $13.5 million a year, requiring a rates increase of 48 per cent, the report stated. The only options Morrison Low consider to be practicable are retaining the current Auckland Council and creating an extra local board in Rodney. The commission is expected to decide before Christmas whether to proceed with the proposals to create new councils on Waiheke and in North Rodney, Meeuwsen said.
Our Waiheke spokesperson John Meeuwsen (left) in his role as a Waiheke Local Board member.