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Waitakere Calls For Four Cities

April 18, 2008

Media Release (For Immediate Release)

Waitakere Calls For Four Cities

Waitakere City Council is proposing a Greater Metropolitan Council, along with four territorial authorities as the model for local government in the Auckland region.

Waitakere’s submission to the Royal Commission considering the future of Auckland governance was unanimously approved at a special council meeting today.

The key features of Waitakere’s proposal are:

* Four cities (based on Waitakere, Auckland, North Shore and Manukau)

* Waitakere would include the existing Avondale ward of Auckland City (which includes Blockhouse Bay).

* The western ward of Rodney District (around Kumeu, Huapai and Helensville) should also be considered by the Royal Commission to be included in the new Waitakere City.

* Local authorities would make two appointments each to the Metropolitan Council, which would also have members elected from across the region.

* The chairperson or "head" of the Greater Metropolitan Council would be appointed from within it, rather than being elected “at large”.

* The Metropolitan Council would have responsibility for regional planning and policies (e.g. housing), transport and other major infrastructure, regional economic development (including international investment attraction), tourism, and major events.

* Support for the role of community boards.

* A common rating system across the region.

"Auckland can be an internationally competitive region. But for this to happen strong governance at two tiers of local government is required," says Mayor Bob Harvey.

"At the moment there are confused roles and accountabilities between regional and local government and that needs to be sorted out as a priority. We will also be making strong representations to the royal commission on local governance arrangements and the importance of “place shaping”- by that we mean aligning communities of interest, natural catchments and growth nodes and developing them based on the principles of sustainability.”

Mayor Harvey says the four city option means local authorities in the region would be of roughly the same size in terms of population.

“Overseas evidence shows that is the optimum size for any local authority. It gives efficiencies and results in Councils that are big enough to matter, but the right size to connect with their communities.”

He also says there are obvious communities of interest between Waitakere, the Avondale/Blockhouse Bay areas and western parts of Rodney.

“People work, play, go to school and shop across what are pretty artificial borders at the moment. It is a logical move.”

He adds that recommendations from local body reform in 1989 initially had the Avondale/Blockhouse Bay area included in Waitakere City.

Waitakere also rejects any notion of a single (or “super”) city to manage the region.

”There have been a lot of wild claims, but no proof, that a super city will bring financial benefit to ratepayers," Mayor Harvey says.

“Our submission presents hard facts, not smoke and mirrors.”

In the past month Waitakere councillors and community board members have held numerous meetings and workshops to refine their position. These have been informed by a series of public meetings, and meetings with representative groups such as residents and ratepayers' organisations, Maori and ethnic communities, as well as neighbouring councils.

Mayor Harvey also travelled to Brisbane to look at the results of recent local government reform there.

“We are very confident that our submission has captured local views and international best practise,” he says.


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