North Shore No To Super City
North Shore No To Super City And Yes To Stronger Voice For Local Democracy May 18, 2008
North Shore City's Mayor Andrew Williams is to deliver a clear and strong message – no Super City – when he makes his oral submission to the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance tomorrow morning. (Monday 19th May)
Instead, his council will tell commissioners it wants existing councils to remain alongside and be part of a strengthened and enhanced regional body. The need to keep the “local” in local government will be stressed, including the involvement of community boards which have been a great strength of North Shore City's democratic process since the city was formed in 1989. North Shore City now has some 220,000 residents and is New Zealand's 4th largest - larger than the likes of the cities of Wellington, Dunedin or Hamilton.
“A Super City would produce a large bureaucracy - a faceless politburo - and impose a ‘one size fits all’ system on the differing needs of Auckland’s diverse communities,” says the North Shore Mayor. “There would also be large scale legislative change required, lengthy periods of disruption and significant rebranding costs. Most importantly it would reduce accountability to electors and therefore erode local democracy.”
Mayor Williams says "The Shore is the Shore and we are very proud of it as a city. North Shore’s boundaries should remain unchanged as they are defined by coastline on three sides - the longest urban coastline of any city in New Zealand - and the Albany hills to the north, with clear communities of interest" says the Mayor. He leaves it to other councils to comment to the Commission on the appropriateness of their own boundaries.
North Shore City will tell however the commission there is no overall coordinated and integrated approach to regional governance of regional issues. But the council says this could be solved by an enhanced regional authority made up of representatives half from councils and half from elected councillors at large by wards. The "Mayor" or "Chair" would then be appointed by the elected representatives on that Authority. North Shore City proposes that the Mayor or Chair should be elected by a significant majority, possibly of two-thirds of the elected representatives, and then that person could truly say that they represent the region.
The North Shore Mayor says the regional leader should not be elected at large as there is a grave danger of introducing a presidential-type election process which could confine candidates to millionaires or celebrities, which would prevent many quality candidates from standing. It would also have the risk of being a political position fiercely competed for by the various political parties, as has been witnessed recently with the Greater London Council.
Mayor Andrew Williams will also tell the Commissioners that a regional Mayor or Chair should not have executive powers but instead a strong mandate from his fellow representatives, particularly in dealing with Central Government.
“In our view, the relationship between Auckland councils and Wellington is sometimes dysfunctional and is a critical element of the Royal Commission’s review,” says Andrew Williams. “Central Government and Auckland’s councils are both significant investors in the region, which both see as an engine of growth for the whole nation. In order to get the best return for ratepayers and taxpayers, it is crucial that both planning and delivery for this combined public investment are synchronised and carefully targeted using a ‘whole of government’ approach.”
North Shore City will tell the Royal Commission the management of Auckland’s transport and environment are suffering because of the multiplicity of entities governing them, which leads to a lack of coordination and limited funding. "If we can sort out the region's transport and traffic problems we would be a long way down the track towards ensuring an internationally competitive and successful regional city."
Mayor Williams says a strengthened and enhanced regional authority would be the one body which plans and funds all modes of transport in the region. Such an authority would also manage the environment for the whole region, limit urban sprawl and ensure consistent standards across the region.
The Mayor, Deputy Mayor Julia Parfitt, along with North Shore Councillors, Community Board members and North Shore City’s Chief Executive will make their submission to the Royal Commission between 9.30 and 10.30 on Monday morning. The North Shore hearings are taking place at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna on 19th/20th May and due to the interest of Shore people a further day for North Shore has also been added on Friday June 13th. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.