Council unveils radical supercity plan

By Bernard Orsman

The Auckland City Council has unveiled a radical plan for a single supercity made up of 26 members to run Auckland, including an elected Lord Mayor.

The region of 1.3 million people, stretching from the Waikato in the south to Warkworth in the north, would lose 90 per cent of its 264 elected local politicians representing seven territorial councils and the Auckland Regional Council.

The plan, outlined by Auckland City chief executive David Rankin, is the first draft of a submission to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Auckland Governance.

It will go to the regional governance committee on Thursday for councillors to consider, but has already been criticised by City Vision councillors upset at the loss of local democracy.

Mr Rankin defended the officers' bold plan to reduce local democracy in Auckland to one council only slightly bigger than the present 20-strong Auckland City Council, saying it would be accountable and accessible at the local level.

Under the supercity proposal, a Greater Auckland Council would be made up of an elected Lord Mayor, four area mayors based on the Auckland City, North Shore, Manukau and Waitakere city councils and 21 neighbourhood councillors.

The Lord Mayor, four area mayors and two neighbourhood councillors would sit on a civic board to provide collective leadership for the region, including the development of key plans and a link to central government.

There would be area committees - chaired by the area mayors and including the neighbourhood councillors for each area - to provide the connection between local areas and the region.

Rodney, Papakura and Franklin councils would be swallowed up by the four neighbourhood areas.

Deputy Mayor David Hay, who chairs the regional governance committee, said the plan had a lot of merit.

"There is huge, widespread support for better regional governance on the big picture items.

"The area for greatest debate will be around the local community. We have got to have a good hard look at the effectiveness of our community boards. What is the public getting for their dollars there and will this new system be more effective. I think it has got some merit."

City Vision councillor Cathy Casey was horrified by the plan, saying her ward of Eden Albert with its own community board would be turned into an electorate of 60,000 people with one elected representative.

"I've got a hard job at the moment trying to stay in touch with the electorate. It's removing elected members from the people," she said.

The plan will be approved or amended for the council's submission to the Royal Commission. Submissions close on April 22.

- NZ Herald

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