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Community boards heading for the chop: Smith

Community boards heading for the chop: Smith

The new Local Government Act is already leading to the demise of community boards, with a number of local authorities indicating that they intend to abolish them, United Future MP Murray Smith said today.

He said that even some of the local authorities most supportive of community boards were looking at abolishing them as a result of the Government's new bulk funding of elected local government members' salaries.

This is despite the Government promising that the new Act would strengthen community consultation and representation, and the Minister of Local Government, Chris Carter's restatement in the House yesterday, in response to a question from Mr Smith, that the Government believed that community boards had a very valuable role to play.

"The problem has been caused by the removal in the new Act of the right for communities, through their elected members, to vote on whether their community board's continue or are abolished," Mr Smith said.

"The decision is now at the whim of local authority members who often see community boards as an impediment to their absolute control over local issues, and now, with bulk funding, see them as an extra costs limiting the amount of remuneration that they themselves can receive" he said.

Mr Smith believes that the issue of local community representation belongs to communities, and not to the dictates of broader local authority.

"People should be able to decide for themselves whether they want a Community Board to serve their area," he said.

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