22 Aug 2015

Northern ratepayers' bid to split super-city

9:34 am on 22 August 2015

The Local Government Commission has agreed to assess an application by Rodney ratepayers to break away from the Auckland Council.

Auckland's northernmost local board Rodney includes Kawau Island and Kumeu/Huapai, Helensville, Warkworth, Matakana and Wellsford (pictured).

Auckland's northernmost local board Rodney includes Kawau Island and Kumeu/Huapai, Helensville, Warkworth, Matakana and Wellsford (pictured). Photo: 123RF

The Northern Action Group has been campaigning for more than a year for a separate North Rodney Council, arguing that their inclusion in the super-city was a mistake.

The chairman, Bill Townson, said North Rodney had gone downhill fast under governance by the super-city.

"Our roads are a terrible mess now, " he said. "A lot of the old-timers up here say they've never seen the roads so bad. And people are frustrated by the council bureaucracy. A lot of volunteers have given up because of it."

The commission turned down the group's first application to pull out of Auckland, but that was overturned by the High Court in April.

The group has since been able to show support for its proposal in Auckland, as well as Rodney, and the commission said it would now take another look at it.

The commission's chief executive, Sandra Preston, said the next step would be to determine whether Auckland would be affected by a reorganisation, or just Rodney.

"It will depend on whether we consider the operation and scope and the capability of the Auckland Council is materially affected," she said.

Mr Townson said it was hard to see how that could be the case.

"We're about one percent of the Auckland Council's economy", he said.

But if Auckland is deemed to be an area affected by the North Rodney proposal, it could open the gate to alternative proposals for the super-city itself.

Mr Townson predicted there would be no shortage of other areas wanting out. Separation from the super-city, in other words, could become a very protracted affair.

"But we've got to the stage now where we've had so many setbacks and frustrations, we're just taking one step at a time and for us this agreement to assess is a huge step forward. It gets us into the room, if you like."

Mr Townson said there were still plenty of obstacles for the group to deal with as the commission's process unfolded.

"But we're confident of our proposal and the model that we've built to show North Rodney can and will survive on its own and do very nicely, thank you. "

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