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Culture Review Report Risks Loss of Democracy

Media Release
City Vision-Labour Councillors - Auckland City Council
For Immediate Release
Friday 16 May 2008


City Council Culture Review Report Risks Loss of Democracy

City Vision-Labour Councillors today expressed grave concern at the implications for democratic accountability contained in a consultant's report titled "Auckland City Council Culture Review".

Councillor Richard Northey says. "I agree with the report's recommendations that Council regularly needs to reprioritise existing activities but I strongly disagree with the implication that Council staff alone should decide which existing activities and programmes to defer or terminate to fund new ones."

Councillor Northey continued "The Local Government Act and democratic principles require that councillors need to decide in open meetings whether to end or defer valued existing activities, not unaccountable Council staff in secret."

"I disagree with the report's recommendation that existing programmes and activities be annually cut below their inflation caused costs.  This "sinking lid" policy will often mean an unpredictable cut in the quality and effectiveness of existing services."

"I also strongly disagree with the recommendation that rates, and therefore council services should be cut back at times of economic recession.  This takes us back to the thinking of the 1930s when Government cuts significantly worsened the Depression.  At these times, maintaining Council employment and services is particularly valuable."

Councillor Northey concluded, "Proposals to rule out questions by councillors at committee meetings which elaborate on and uncover issues discussed in committee reports will deny both councillors and the general public necessary information to make transparent and fully informed decisions."

The report's findings and recommendations will be reported to two committees. Those relating to organisation development will be reported to the Performance Monitoring Committee while the financial recommendations will be reported to the Finance and Strategy Committee.


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