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London election should be a warning to Auckland

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Media release 3rd May 2008


London election should be a warning to Auckland ratepayers.

Keep party politics out of local councils.

The results of the London Mayoral election, and UK local elections generally, should be a warning to Auckland citizens who think a directly-elected Lord Mayor of Auckland would be a good thing.

The so-called ‘London Model’ is not for Auckland.

The victory by Conservative Party candidate Boris Johnson over Labour candidate and incumbent London Mayor Ken Livingstone was a demonstration of how party politics dominates the UK local government scene.

The Labour government in the UK is in dire trouble nationally and this has manifested itself in a massive swing to Conservatives from Labour in local councils throughout England. .

And in London, ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone was still a relatively popular figure, but was beaten by MP and newspaper columnist Boris Johnson who many consider to be a bit of a clown.

Both men had high profiles with the public.

And both had the backing of their party machines behind them.

Now, Londoners have an Executive Mayor from a party which is in opposition to the governing party in Parliament – a recipe for endless confrontation.

It was a similar scenario which led to the abolition of the Greater London Council in 1986 when its leader – the same ‘Red’Ken Livingstone – took on Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and lost.

The danger for Auckland is that the move to have a directly-elected Lord Mayor of Greater Auckland will lead to party politics moving into regional/local government.

This will almost certainly happen if the suggested new community councils are based on Parliamentary constituencies

There may be some logic in party politics in local government in London where central government funds almost 80% of local government costs.

But in Auckland central government funds only 12% of local government costs – with 88% funded by local ratepayers and income from fees and charges.

Importing the ‘London Model’ could well prove disastrous for Auckland ratepayers who would have little say in how their money would be spent.

ENDS

[NOTE. David Thornton is a former member of the Greater London Council, North Shore City Council, and is currently Deputy Chairman of Glenfield Community Board]

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