23 Apr 2009

Auckland residents concerned at super-city plans

9:00 am on 23 April 2009

Hundreds of people turned out across Auckland on Wednesday to voice concerns over the Government's plan for a super-city.

The Government wants Auckland consist of a super-council with one mayor elected by voters and up to 30 community boards.

It has made significant changes to the system recommended by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, which spent over a year considering how the region's 1.4 million residents could be better served by their councils.

A second tier of six elected local councils, proposed by the commission, has been scrapped in favour of community boards, which will have more power than the present community boards, but will not be able to raise their own revenue or hire staff.

In Henderson, 500 protesters marched to the Waitakere City Council's buildings on Wednesday waving placards and chanting: "We want democracy, now".

Protest organiser Tony Mayor said the Waitakere community is demanding that residents continue to be kept in local governement. He said the Government's proposal guts communities and their ability to have a voice.

The protest follows a meeting last week at which more than 300 people crammed into the council's chambers at a special meeting on changes to local government.

In Manukau, more than 200 residents met with Mayor Len Brown to express their concerns on Wednesday night.

Residents said they feel the process is being rushed, and South Auckland is not being listened to.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has rejected suggestions that the proposed community boards will not be able to represent ratepayers.

Mr Hide says they will be able to connect with the super-council and their role will be established in law.

Protest organisers say there will be further demonstrations and community meetings.

Poll puts Banks in lead for super-city mayor

Auckland City Mayor John Banks has emerged as the clear frontrunner to lead the super-city, according to a new poll.

UMR research surveyed nearly 500 Aucklanders on a list of 21 people mooted in the media as potential candidates.

Mr Banks is the only person on the list who has confirmed that he will run. Of those surveyed, 17% said they would vote for him.

Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey was second and retailer Stephen Tindall third. Former National Party leader Don Brash was fourth, while Manukau Mayor Len Brown was fifth.

Mr Banks says he is humbled by the early show of support, but is taking nothing for granted. He says he has a lot of work to do to win over voters from every area of the region.