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An open letter to all Auckland City Councillors


WAKE UP AUCKLAND

wakeupauckland@xtra.co.nz

17 June 2002

An open letter to all Auckland City Councillors

This is an open letter to all councillors. It is being sent to you at the end of the public consultation process on the draft annual and strategic plan, and at the beginning of what everyone hopes is a period of intensive soul searching and reflection on the submissions you have received.

At the end of this week you will make your decisions. Depending on those decisions we will enter either a period of new found confidence that this Council can operate in the interests of the vast majority of Auckland City citizens or, we will be entering a new phase of the conflict and division that has characterised the “debate” so far.

We seek an approach that moves the city forward to a future that is inclusive, cooperative, innovative, and green.

At a time when a majority of Auckland citizens demonstrate a lack of confidence in the local democratic process, as demonstrated by the growing levels of abstention in elections, it is essential that Auckland City Councillors heed the call of the public as made through the submission process. The submitters have overwhelmingly spoken against the planned sale of public assets and the cuts in community and environmental services and support.

It is significant to note that one of the few groups that did endorse your agenda was the New Zealand Business Roundtable. The Business Roundtable has been very consistent since the 1980’s in its call for local government to get out of the ownership of all assets and also the provisions of services that the private sector could make profits from. It is interesting to note that the Birch report’s attitude towards local government is almost word for word the same as a BRT 1988 submission to Central Government, except that Bill Birch failed to include in his report the administration of democratic processes as a core role of Councils.

Is this council going to serve the bidding of the very powerful and wealthy few, or the majority of the public?

According to senior Council officers who have replied to questions from Wake Up Auckland in May “Council staff were not asked to model different ways of dealing with debt other than via the asset sales process”. At the same time they have said, “No resolutions were passed asking officers to model zero (in dollar terms) rate increases.”

It is unacceptable for councillors to take such radical and irreversible steps without having examined all options and without having made these available to the public for our full and informed consideration.

We urge Councillors to heed the public response: take the planned sales and service cuts off the table and go back to the drawing board.

In the meantime, the $54m payout special payout from the Auckland airport shares could be used to restore the cuts (about $8m per year), and scrap the proposed annual general uniform charge.

Over the next twelve months, the Council must work with the community and central government to investigate a full range of options for dealing with the issues of debt, waste reduction, and city growth that protects our environment and trees.

Council should also develop in meaningful and community interaction and consultation processes. These processes can then be used to produce different and win-win solutions that protect public ownership, management, and operation of strategic infrastructure in general, that keep the full council housing stock in council ownership, management, and control in particular.

This letter seeks to offer a way forward that, if adopted, IN FULL could serve to take the heat out of the current situation and allow the issues to be worked through over a longer time frame using processes that are cooperative and seek principled outcomes that benefit us all.

We await your considered response.

Marney Ainsworth

On behalf of Wake Up Auckland

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