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Rodney District not entering turf war

Rodney District not entering turf war with Waitakere

18 April 2008

Rodney District Council is refusing to enter into a turf war following Waitakere City Council's adoption of its submission to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance today (18 April 2008).

Rodney District's Mayor, Penny Webster, says she was saddened and distressed to hear that Waitakere City Council is using the governance issue to empire build and carve up Rodney District.

"Their approach is less about providing services and efficiencies to ratepayers and more about Mayor Harvey wresting our western communities to bolster Waitakere's population and making it viable under a four-city structure," says Mayor Webster.

She goes on to say that a study by the Local Body Centre at AUT University argues that bigger isn't necessarily better.

"The study says evidence strongly shows amalgamating territorial local authorities as is being suggested by Waitakere City, will not improve efficiency and/or reduce costs, and that amalgamation invariably proves far more complex and costly than is initially assumed," says Mayor Webster.

"Furthermore, the study quotes Canadian research that shows once the size of a local authority exceeds 250,000, cost per capita tends to increase, (Local government researcher Professor Robert Bish), dispelling arguments that bigger is better."

Mayor Webster was offended by Mayor Harvey's suggestion that Rodney District's western ward is 'difficult' and that her council would happily cast it off to Waitakere.

"Unlike Mayor Harvey, we do not consider our communities of Riverhead, Kumeu,-Huapai, Muriwai and Helensville to be 'difficult' or 'insignificant', 'struggling western tribes' and we certainly do not believe they will be better off as part of Waitakere City.

"We believe our communities will be better off if they retain the ability to participate in decisions about development and where they live and work; if the rates burden is lifted by passing responsibility for infrastructure like water and roading to a commercially run organisation with council shareholders; and if an Environmental Protection Agency with clear responsibilities for water and air quality is formed.

"It is about improving the way we do things and realising true cost efficiencies so that our ratepayers, their children and grandchildren all get a better deal.

"It is not as Mayor Harvey says 'about balancing population numbers' to come up with a four-city approach, it is not a land grab. It is about our people, our diverse communities and our special relationship with Mana Whenua," says Mayor Webster.

Rodney District Council is urging all of its communities to get involved in the Royal Commission process and keep up to date with developments.

"Local Government is complex and generally not well understood, but the fact is this Royal Commission will result in change that will influence our lives and lifestyles for years to come," says Mayor Webster.

ENDS

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