Critics go to town on plan for super city

By Bernard Orsman

A radical plan by Auckland City officers for a super city will go on hold today, but the future remains gloomy for community boards having a place in the final plan.

The plan for a single Greater Auckland Council headed by a lord mayor to replace seven territorial councils and one regional council has divided the council. Community boards are particularly upset at plans to replace them with one "neighbourhood" councillor for about 60,000 people.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams and Rodney Mayor Penny Webster have slammed the super city proposal.

Auckland City chief executive David Rankin has come under fire from Mayor John Banks for refusing to release details of the input of consultants into the plan, which will form the basis of the council's submission to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland Governance.

"I would hope that sooner, rather than later, all advice we have received will be made public," Mr Banks said.

Mr Rankin has spent upwards of $410,000 on consultants, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, and a former council officer, John Williamson, for help with the officers' draft plan.

He has refused to say what role consultants played in the controversial proposal to axe consultants, saying he was ultimately responsible for what was in the officers' report.

Deputy mayor David Hay, who will chair a meeting today of the regional governance committee, said the officers' plan would be referred to a workshop on April 10. A special council meeting will finalise the plan on April 17. The deadline for submissions is April 22.

Asked if the workshop could lead to community boards being included in the final plan, Mr Hay gave a less than encouraging answer: "The proposal [for neighbourhood councillors] put forward by officers is capable of being modified into a reasonable scheme."

The chairs of the council's 10 community boards met last night to consider a response. They believe Mr Rankin and officers ignored their views to focus on the big picture at the expense of local democracy.

Mr Rankin said officers had not ignored their views, they just did not agree with some of their solutions and made different recommendations.

Mr Banks said he believed there was room for improvement on the officers' report and was open-minded on how that could be delivered.

"I don't want this Greater Auckland Council to become some kind of politburo and all decisions are taken in isolation and to hell with the people in the neighbourhoods," he said.

Great Barrier community board chairman Paul Downie said the officers' plan was a Big Brother model that said "we know all and don't want to consult with communities that will be affected".

CITY OF THE FUTURE

* Greater Auckland Council made up of 26 councillors, including lord mayor, four area mayors and 21 neighbourhood councillors.

* Replace seven territorial councils and one regional council with four area committees - north, south, west and central - comprising the area mayor and four to seven neighbourhood councillors.

* Neighbourhood councillors to look after the needs of 60,000 people.

* Abolition of community boards.

* Civic board of lord mayor, area mayors and two councillors for regional and national issues.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 23 Dec 2014 17:43:02 Processing Time: 783ms