24 Apr 2009

Mayors discuss super-council concerns with Govt

5:26 pm on 24 April 2009

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams says recent protests have been a wake-up call to the Government that Aucklanders are concerned about local democracy.

Representatives of the eight Auckland councils and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide met on Friday to discuss concerns over the proposed super-council.

Mr Williams says the Government had under-estimated how concerned Aucklanders are about retaining local democracy.

The Government wants Auckland to 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.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people in Waitakere and Manukau voiced their concerns particularly over the proposed community boards, saying they lacked the ability to have a voice.

Mr Williams says the Government is now listening to the community and to the mayors.

However, Mr Hide says there will not be referendum on the super-council, despite calls from Labour Party leader Phil Goff.

Committee to look at proposal

An attempt by left-leaning councillors to get Auckland City Council to work towards changing the super-city proposal has failed.

Instead, the council on Thursday voted to set up a committee to work on how best to implement the Government's plan.

The Regional Governance Committee of five councillors, including Mayor John Banks and deputy David Hay, will look at representation, proposed mayoral powers and staffing issues.

Mr Banks - the only one of the Auckland region's mayors to strongly support the super-city scheme - says the committee will provide an avenue for the council to voice its concerns to Government.

The committee will report back to the full council in May.