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Regional Governance Model Raises Concerns

Regional Governance Model Raises Local Voice Concerns

City Vision-Labour Councillors were at the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance media briefing today and believe the proposals presented raise some real concerns around local voice and democracy.

Councillor Richard Northey said, “I am really concerned, as the Minister appears to be, at the removal of real local representation and local decision-making. The abolition of most Community Boards and the change of the existing Councils from a governance role to simply an advocacy and monitoring role, means that an excessive amount of local decisions will be made at the regional level. Although the disempowered local councils will be representative by being elected from single member wards, the region will be dominated by the super mayor and the ticket which gets most of the seats elected at-large across the region.”

Councillor Leila Boyle said, “I am worried about the idea of electing ten regional councillors at-large across the region. We have had smaller models of this before, for example the old Auckland City Council prior to amalgamation in 1989, which had councillors elected at-large and most of them were men who lived in the wealthy inner city suburbs of the Eastern Bays, Remuera and Epsom. The outer lying suburbs such as Glen Innes in the south and Pt Chevalier in the west had no representatives at all! I can see a real danger that this could happen again at a regional level where most at-large councillors are male, Pakeha and living in the existing Auckland City Council area. How representative is that?!?”

Councillor Glenda Fryer said, “The election of an at-large Mayor who will then appoint his Deputy Mayor and Committee Chairs could only be called a shallow democracy not an accountable democracy as we know it. An at-large Mayor and ten at-large Councillors will almost certainly comprise of former central government politicians, TV and sports stars or retired well-known business people because they will need to be well-known enough over the whole region and with plenty of money to spend on publicity to be elected!”

Councillor Cathy Casey said, “Hon Peter Salmond said that promoting social wellbeing and community engagement should be core business of a council. The Commission hopes to achieve this by establishing the Social Issues Board as the ‘main body for social issues’. The great danger is that this body will be seen to be the only means of social wellbeing and community engagement in the Auckland region and that local councillors’ primary focus will be on roads, rats and rubbish.”

Councillor Graeme Easte said, “I am concerned that Ponsonby Rd has been split down the middle with half of it going into the proposed new City Centre and Waterfront Community Board and the other half in the new Tamaki Makau-rau ward which is the rest of the existing Auckland city. It seems an odd boundary to me as it carves up an old, established suburban community which flies in the face of improving and increasing representation.”

Councillor Denise Roche said, “I am delighted that the hundreds of submissions from the people of Great Barrier and Waiheke Islands have been listened to and we get to keep our community boards with perhaps more decision making powers. I am worried, however, about how people in small communities get to be represented at that regional super city level.”

ENDS

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