21 Nov 2009

Commission reduces local boards in super-city

6:42 am on 21 November 2009

The chair of the Local Government Commission says the proposal to establish fewer local boards for Auckland's super-city is driven by the desire to give local communities a bigger voice

Revealing the proposed boundaries for the super-city on Friday, the commission opted for fewer local boards than previously suggested.

It is proposing 12 wards; eight having two councillors each and four with one councillor, making up the total of 20 representatives for the super council.

Nineteen local community boards will sit within the greater wards, comprising between five and nine members each, making a total of 126 board members around the region.

The Government recommended that the commission create between 20 and 30 local boards.

However, the commission's chair Sue Piper says fewer boards mean a more focused community approach.

Ms Piper describes the boards as the glue in the engagement between local communities and the council and believes they will now have greater sway when dealing with the council.

Commissioner Grant Kirby says a larger population base for the boards will provide them with the grunt they need to get the attention of councillors.

Iwi sceptical

Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua believes the boards won't yield any power.

Iwi spokesperson Ngarimu Blair, one of the organisers for the Supercity hikoi earlier this year, says they are just a front.

"Just like the select committee process and the consultation process they're, I guess, a front shop to give an impression that there is community involvement, community input, when the reality is the opposite."

More details

The commission is required by Government to come up with details including the boundaries for the new council, wards and local boards, as well as names for the areas.

Each councillor will represent between about 53,000 and 88,000 people.

Ward names are based mainly on existing ones, with any new names relating to prominent geographical features.

The commission has made only a few small changes to the Government's proposal for a new southern boundary.

The super-city council will include those parts of Waiuku and Pukekohe that are at present part of Waikato.

Mayoral reactions

Franklin mayor Mark Ball says despite there being only two rural voices on it - his area and Rodney's - he's confident mayors with large rural districts in their areas will get their point across.

Mr Ball says he's pleased the commission listened to his community's concerns and extended Franklin's boundary.

He says it has solidified the rural voice by the inclusion of Cleveland and Kawakawa Bay.

But North Shore City mayor Andrew Williams says the new plan will divide his district in half and result in less representation.

The commission says the proposals represent the best balance between effective representation of communities of interest, and fair representation for electors.

The plan is open for submissions for three weeks, until 11 December. The tight timeframe is being put down to the need to have details finalised in time for elections in October 2010.