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Rodney to Investigate Unitary Authority Option

Media Release

Thursday 21 May 2009

Rodney to Investigate Unitary Authority Option

At today’s Council meeting, Rodney District Council resolved to investigate the option to become a unitary authority and for the outcome of these investigations to form a basis for the Council’s submission to the Select Committee considering the Local Government (Auckland) Bill.

The Council also voted to continue to cooperate fully and supportively with the Auckland Transition Agency.

A report prepared for the Council identified four options for considering the future boundaries of the Auckland Region as they related to Rodney District.

The first option considered was for Rodney to become part of an Auckland Super City. The second option was for Rodney District to be divided and for part of the District to form part of the Auckland Super City and the northern part of the District to be part of the Northland Region. The third option was for the whole of Rodney to become part of the Northland Region.

The fourth option was that the Council investigate becoming a Unitary Council, which would involve the Council carrying out the functions of both a territorial local authority and a Regional Council within Rodney District.

The majority of Councillors voted (9 to 3) for a motion to investigate the unitary option further and for the outcome of these investigations to form a basis for the Council’s submission to the Select Committee on the Local Government (Auckland) Bill.

At the Council meeting, Chief Executive Rodger Kerr- Newell said that Local Government Minister Rodney Hide was right in forming a Super City and that it was vital that the Council continue to work with the Transition Agency and advocate for the interests of Rodney residents in an Auckland Council, while investigations into the unitary option were underway.

Rodney Mayor Penny Webster says that 90% of Rodney residents who have spoken to her about the Super City proposal over recent weeks have not supported the proposal for Rodney to be part of a greater Auckland Council.

“The local community has been saying that Rodney is not Auckland, we are a rural community, and our concerns are very different to Auckland.”

“If we become part of a Super City we are likely to have one ward Councillor who will have very little influence over the decisions that are made about the future of Rodney. There is widespread concern amongst the community that their interests will not be well served through a Super City,” she says.

Mayor Webster says that at a recent meeting at Whangaparaoa hosted by Rodney MP Lockwood Smith, the majority of the crowd of 150 – 200 residents expressed the view that Rodney should be left out of a Super City.

The report to Council identified that the transition costs of becoming a unitary authority would be cheaper than becoming part of a Super City. It also noted that Rodney District Council already performed some of the functions of a Regional Council.

Chief Executive Rodger Kerr- Newell is confident that Rodney District Council would be able to take over the functions of a Regional Council and deliver these at a lower cost to ratepayers than the Auckland Regional Council.

Council staff will now carry out further work to determine the likely cost implications of becoming a unitary Council, and report back to the Council on this and other issues associated with the option.

ENDS

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