CCOs, Govt panned in survey of Aucklanders

By Wayne Thompson

Super City reforms introducing unelected boards get thumbs-down in Herald poll

More than half of Aucklanders oppose their water, transport and roads being run by unelected boards under the Government's Super City reforms.

A Herald-DigiPoll survey asked 731 respondents across Auckland if they supported the Government's unilateral decision on which services would be run by council-controlled organisations, amounting to 75 per cent of council services.

Only 32.4 per cent said they supported it, while 58.8 per cent were opposed.

Council-controlled organisations (CCOs) are business units with their own boards of directors. They allow councils to make use of commercial skills and specialist expertise that might not be available within councils.

But the Government's proposal in the final piece of Super City legislation has aroused widespread criticism of the accountability of water, waterfront development and transport CCOs.

Critics of the legislation include the two top contenders to be mayor of the new Auckland Council.

Yesterday, Auckland City Mayor John Banks said the poll showed clearly that the roles, functions and execution of the organisations' responsibilities had not been spelled out.

"Wherever I go people ask whether they will get the same level of service."

However, he said he was "quietly confident" CCOs could work and that the Government would change legislation to deal with most concerns - perceived or real.

He had been such a prominent proponent of a greater Auckland Council that he had become a lightning rod for concerns.

As reported, the poll has shown Mr Banks running 11.4 percentage points behind Manukau Mayor Len Brown for the October 9 election.

Mr Brown said the response to the CCO question showed serious disquiet about the organisations and board appointment process.

"I was not supportive of the transport CCO and have made it clear to the Government that I will be holding that CCO under direct review and giving it a year to shape up."

If not, he might ask the Government to amend or terminate it.

The poll also sought views on whether the Government had handled the reforms well.

This resulted in 53.5 per cent of respondents saying it had not, and 32.3 per cent saying it had.

Both mayors agreed the Government could have done more.

"Wellington needs to sell Auckland the net benefits of the Super City," said Mr Banks.

Mr Brown said: "People can't understand how it will work, because it's been such a fast process and they have felt left out."

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said many of the concerns expressed in the poll had been raised by Aucklanders with the parliamentary select committee which is looking at the bill.

"The select committee will be reporting back to Parliament on May 24 and I hope it will address those very concerns."

The poll was conducted between April 30 and Wednesday and had a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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