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Questions still surround Auckland governance

Questions still surround Auckland governance says North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams

3 April 2009

As Auckland awaits the Government response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, there are still major unanswered questions says North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams.

“We agree with the Commission’s view that the current situation needs changes, and we agree that there is a need for greater efficiencies. “We also accept the likelihood of a single Mayor for the whole of wider Auckland,” he says.

“However I do wonder if this proposal in some ways throws out the baby with the bathwater.”

Mayor Williams says that the North Shore City Council has asked Cabinet to take into account some major issues when final decisions are being made.

“We are greatly concerned about the undermining of local democracy and its impact on civic engagement,” he says. “In particular the proposal to disestablish community boards has the potential to put paid to grassroots democracy in our city.”

Mayor Williams says that he is also concerned that councillors for Auckland Council are likely to be elected at large, rather than on a Ward system.

“This could mean that we end up with a council that does not truly represent its constituents. “Auckland Council elections could be high-cost, with party based campaigning and voting behaviour. “

Mayor Williams says that his council is ready and waiting to work through the transitional period with the best interests of Auckland as a whole in mind.

However he is concerned at how the transition costs will be met. “It has been clearly signalled that the ratepayers of wider Auckland will meet the costs of local government reform in our city,” he says.

“Aucklandwide, those costs have been estimated at between $120 million and $240 million.

“This is funding which will not be available for council services such as improving water supplies, and providing parks, wastewater treatment and better footpaths and roads.

“As it is now proposed, the transition process could result in crippling rate rises throughout greater Auckland, and the costs could well outweigh the perceived benefits.”

ENDS

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