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Auckland Council Attempts To Circumvent New Law

Wednesday, 8 May 2002

Auckland City Council Attempts To Circumvent New Law

“There is no doubt that the Auckland City Council is trying to circumvent the new Local Government Bill currently being considered by a Parliamentary Select Committee,” charges Wake Up Auckland’s spokesperson, Marney Ainsworth.

At a special council meeting held last Friday afternoon, Council adopted a “special consultation process”, allegedly designed to comply with this new law.

The procedure adopted by Council consisted of placing an ad in Tuesday’s public notices on page C11 of the Business section of the NZ Herald and then extend the closure for the draft annual plan consultation for submissions on these matters only by a mere two weeks.

“The Auckland City Council’s efforts at consulting the public over the planned sale of council housing and the airport shares, as well as the proposed commercialisation of the transfer of the Oneroa wastewater assets on Waiheke, have all the openness and transparency of a thief in the night”, says Ms Ainsworth.

Wake Up Auckland lodged a complaint with Council last week about this move and identified some of the deficiencies in the Council manoeuvres:

- They decided to deal with this matter outside the normal course of Council meetings and events.

- They failed to notify the meeting to the public in the official channels - some years ago the Council decided controversially to advertise all public notices in City Scene rather than in the New Zealand Herald. For this issue, without notice, the Council has advertised in the NZ Herald only.

- They held the meeting at 1.30 pm on a Friday, a time when most people are at work and therefore unable to attend should they wish.

- They are preempting the passing of the Local Government Bill, which is still before the select committee and has not yet been enacted.

- They are undermining the intent of the new legislation, which is being written to give people more opportunity to influence council decisions.

- They have made no effort to consult over what the consultation procedures should be and seem unwilling to follow either previous Council practices re consultation, or to have any regard to national or international best practice regarding consultation procedures.

At the first of many public meetings held in response to the Birch report, those present endorsed a resolution that called on the Council to defer any action on the Birch report and to make changes to the previous strategic plan only after a consultation exercise takes place that is equivalent to the process that developed that strategic plan. We reiterate that call,” says Ms Ainsworth.

“The new Act will be retrospective to 15 April, so the more careful Council would wait until the Bill becomes Law. Instead we have a council determined to press ahead with a highly controversial agenda, whose process will likely have to be revisited under the new legislation and additional cost and inconvenience to all concerned.”


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