Council Supports Govt. Package, With Some Concerns
North Shore City Council Media Release
Govt. package, but with some concerns
February 4, 2004
The North Shore City Council has supported the core recommendations of the Chief Executives' report to the region's seven local councils evaluating the Government's transport funding and governance proposals, announced on 12 December.
At yesterday's special meeting of the council, it welcomed the positive response to Auckland's transport funding problems and endorsed in principle the common regional position as put forward by the Chief Executives, except around some specific issues.
The council resolved to ask the Government to look again at the proposed structure for the new Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA). It says it would like to see a democratically elected group of people, along with some appointees, governing the new regional body. The Government is proposing that ARTA's board should be appointed by a panel of council representatives, but that its governing members will not be elected councillors.
North Shore City's Mayor George Wood says the council wants to see the new transport body up and running as soon as possible but it is concerned that the organisation needs to be directly accountable to the people of Auckland.
"This is an important organisation that will be responsible for implementing our transport plans for the region. Its governing body should be accountable to ratepayers - so if people don't like what they are doing, they can have their say at the ballot box," he says. "We also want some clarity around the role of ARTA and what its responsibilities will exactly entail. We need to ensure it is streamlining the delivery of our transport projects in a tangible way. "
Mayor Wood says councillors are also concerned about the future of Infrastructure Auckland (IA) funds and assets, which will be transferred to the Auckland Regional Council from July 1, 2004 under the Government package.
"We are concerned about the future of this which was originally dedicated under statute for funding transport and stormwater infrastructure in the region. There is no guarantee under the change that the Auckland Regional Council will continue to put this funding where it is needed most," he says.
"Our council doesn't agree with the Chief Executives' report on that point and doesn't want to see any relaxation to allow income from IA assets to be used for other purposes such as the operational funding of transport. We want the original purpose kept in place for the long term.
"We have also requested that the Government look at other options for dealing with IA and its assets that could enable the Ports of Auckland to become a fully publicly-owned organisation again," says Mayor Wood.
"IA currently owns 80 per cent of the shares in Ports of Auckland and we wonder why it can't buy the remaining 20 per cent. The company is now selling off some strategically important waterfront marina land that should be retained in public ownership. It's vital for the region's future that this happens. We want the Government to look at its plans in this context - and think around all the Auckland issues involved in IA and the future of its assets," says Mayor Wood.
Mayor Wood says the council will be putting together its own supplementary submission to send to the Government to cover the key issues it wants to emphasise as well as supporting the regional response.