Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Hide says 'not his job' to define board roles

Rodney Hide says there will be clear allocation of local board functions, but he won't allocate them himself. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Rodney Hide says there will be clear allocation of local board functions, but he won't allocate them himself. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Aspiring politicians for the 19 local boards on the Auckland Super City will have to wait until March for a job description.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide is leaving the roles and functions of the local boards to the agency designing the Super City.

He says it is not his job to decide what the local boards and the Super Auckland Council will do. The initial allocation will be set by the Auckland Transition Agency.

"There will be a clear allocation of functions. But they won't be allocated by me," Mr Hide said.

Agency spokesman Grant Taylor said he expected that "meaningful information" about the roles and functions of local boards would be available in March.

Opposition MPs are disappointed the Government has not provided more information about the powers of local boards in the final piece of Super City legislation, introduced to Parliament last week.

Labour's local issues spokesman Phil Twyford said Aucklanders wanted to know that local boards would have real powers and not be toothless talkshops.

"Mr Hide has completely sidestepped the issue, instead allowing the new super council to decide what powers get delegated to the boards, which could end up being very few," he said.

The Local Government (Auckland Council) Act, passed in September, contained the principle that local boards will decide local issues and the Auckland Council will decide regional issues. The Auckland Council ultimately determines what is local and regional.

Green Party local government spokeswoman Sue Kedgley said Mr Hide was creating a corporate model for Auckland with local boards with no power, authority, budget, resources or clear functions.

"The members who are elected to local boards will find themselves, just like councillors on the Auckland Council, with little to do other than thump the table in frustration," she said.

Sue Kedgley said the final piece of Super City legislation siphoned off most of the key functions of the Auckland Council into seven council-controlled organisations run by unelected, unaccountable directors.

Mr Hide said the Auckland Council Act made it clear that local boards would not have regulatory functions.

"When making decisions on regulatory functions, however, the act does require the governing body to consider any views and preferences expressed by a local board, if the decision affects the local board or the well-being of communities," he said.

Mr Hide gave two examples of how functions could be split between local boards and the Auckland Council. On dog control, he said there could be a regionwide set of registration fees and dog nuisance bylaws, but local boards could decide off-leash exercise areas. Secondly, he said the development and maintenance of community centres and halls could be the responsibility of the Auckland Council but decisions about charges, access rights and community programmes would be best made by local boards.

"The Government has made a real effort to put these matters in the hands of the people of Auckland and the local boards, councillors and mayor they elected. These things should not be in legislation," Mr Hide said.

- NZ Herald

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