As a member of Grey Lynn 2030 I would like to submit a submisssion on the following:
Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill
Grey Lynn 2030’s submission
1. Structure of the Submission
This submission sets out:
- what Grey Lynn 2030 is and does;
- why Grey Lynn 2030 strongly opposes the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill (the “Bill); and
- Grey Lynn 2030’s specific submissions on the Bill.
- Our general concerns about the lack of consultation and cost of implementing a Super City structure.
2. About Grey Lynn 2030
Grey Lynn 2030 is a participatory community organisation aimed at facilitating and supporting focus groups working towards creating a positive, connected, sustainable, resilient community through practical action.
We take our terms of reference from the Transition Initiative and core principles from the world wide Transition Towns movement which encourages local communities to take charge of their own production and consumption. The Transition Town movement helps people to reskill and take more responsibility. There are currently 55 Transition Towns throughout New Zealand.
Grey Lynn 2030 is based in Grey Lynn, Auckland, encompassing the surrounding neighbourhoods that form part of the Western Bays Community Board area (including Westmere, Ponsonby, Freeman’s Bay, Herne Bay and St Mary’s Bay). We have over 500 supporters.
We have monthly meetings at the Grey Lynn Community Centre with a speaker and a report back from our focus groups. Presently these groups are:
- Gardening (Community Gardens such as the Wilton St community Garden, projects to encourage urban food production and seed sharing);
- Green Screen – monthly screenings of DVDs at the Grey Lynn Community Centre for those who want to be entertained and learn more about sustainability and the environment;
- Community Planning (people who liaise with the Auckland City Council);
- Traffic (calming of traffic, and the promotion of cycling);
- Waste Away Group (this group recently ran a successful eWaste Action Day); and
- Water Group (working on regenerating local streams)
The contact details for me are……..
I wish to speak to the committee in person in support of this submission.
3. Why Grey Lynn 2030 opposes the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill
The approach taken by the Bill fails to recognise the desire and ability of local communities to look to their own resources and creativity to live sustainably and positively. It also ignores the benefits of developing a distinct community identity under a more localised structure. We support the Royal commission view that Community Engagement is just as important as Regional Unity.
We are concerned with the manner in which the Royal commission report has been largely cast aside after it considered 3500 submissions and took 18 months of deliberations. It is essential that further consideration must be given to the Commission’s well researched carefully considered findings. We agree that Auckland’s governance must allow for a coordinate regional approach but Mr Hide’s model rejects most of the most effective and forward thinking proposals of the Royal Commission, such as a social issues board, a Minister for Auckland, Maori representation and wider ranging powers for local councils.
The wider context in which the Bill is being debated also cannot be ignored. We are in a recession, moving to an energy-constrained era where cheap and easy access to oil cannot be taken for granted. By focusing on the positive aspects of community and participative democracy we have an opportunity to put in place a local government structure that responds to the challenging global environment.
Grey Lynn 2030 initiatives directly benefit from our ability to work closely with the Auckland City Council with access to local decision making and resources. Although we appreciate the support we receive from our local community board the current structure is inadequate. Real power and resources must be made available at a local level and not concentrated in a centralised council that is cut off from local communities.
We oppose the Bill in its current state.
Local boards must be able to act locally, support grass roots initiatives, set their own policies and have a meaningful say over their own governance.
More broadly Grey Lynn 2030 is concerned that the proposed structure of representation will result in a loss of the democratic voice, including that of Maori. With councillors elected at large, constituents will have little or no chance of being granted an audience with a councillor. Members of local boards are familiar with and live alongside their constituents and so are familiar with the pressing issues of their communities. In addition, the Mayor is granted too much power and is disconnected from the local boards.
We oppose the Bill in its current state.
4. Grey Lynn 2030’s submissions in respect of the Local Government (Auckland
4.1 Representation (Clause 8)
All councillors should be elected by wards and not at large. Those wards should be from single member wards [why not multi- member wards]. There should be no councillors at large as such councillors are unable to represent their constituents properly.
The number of Councillors should be increased for fairer representation. Twenty Councillors cannot properly represent 1.4 million Aucklanders. If the Auckland Council has just twenty Councillors on it, Councillors will have even larger electorates than MPs currently have.
The Mayor and Councillors should be elected by proportional representation for example the more democratic Single Transferable Vote (STV) system in multi-councillor wards to ensure proportional and democratic representation, as well as better representation of ethnic groups and minorities.
The only at large representation should be the Mayor. [why not elect the mayor by PR too?]
Maori representation is crucial: the Royal Commission’s recommendation of two Maori seats elected from the Maori roll and one from the mana whenua should be implemented.
4.2 The Mayor and his or her Powers (Clause 9)
We oppose the concentrated amount of power given to the Mayor under the Bill.
The Mayor should appoint the Deputy Mayor. The Committee chairs should be elected by the Council. [should the Council also elect the Deputy Mayor?].
If the Mayor is able to elect the Chairs he or she would have a disproportionate amount of power and control over the Council.
The Mayor should be required to meet regularly with the local boards. This would ensure a reasonable level of communication between the local boards and the councillors.
4.3 Local Boards (clauses 10 -17)
The functions, duties and powers of local boards must be strengthened so that they have a real and meaningful role in the governance of Auckland. As recommended by the Royal Commission Report a model must be put in place that provides local bodies with real power and control over local issues. Grey Lynn 2030 believes that This this would mean that the local boards:
- Make are able to make the decisions wherever possible on local issues such as parks, roads, street design, community development, events, recreational facilities, footpaths, roads, resource recovery options, food production and water management. Only those activities that must be governed by the Council should be governed by the Council;
- Are are guaranteed a minimum level of funding to set their own budget to ensure that they can operate effectively and efficiently, deliver local services and support local initiatives; and
- Range range in number from 10 to 20. [20 – 30?] with boundaries based on communities of interest and geographical identity.
Local Boards should collectively vote on any Auckland Council proposal to: make a rate, pass a bylaw, adopt an Annual Plan or Long Term Community Council Plan (LTCCP), and purchase or dispose of assets if such a proposal is not included in the LTCCP.
4.4 Public ownership of public assets
We support public assets, in particular Auckland’s water and wastewater, remaining in public ownership.
4.5 New concept for the Bill: Sustainability
If we place any value in the future generations of Auckland, sustainability must be a core objective of the governing body. The greatest challenges facing Auckland, and indeed the world today are
related to environmental quality and sustainability. No measure of
economic success will allow the Auckland region or New Zealand to avoid
dealing with environmental sustainability issues. The result of any review of
Auckland governance must be designed to tackle the growing resource and
environmental issues that we will be facing in future years, not be focused
on the issues or politics of the past. Any future governance structure for
Auckland should be tailored towards implementing original, small scale and
distributed solutions for sustainability. Similarly, it will need to effectively
deliver small scale, empowered governance for sustainable communities.
5. Further concerns
5.1 Lack of consultation
There is no indication of wide support for a super city structure and no evidence to suggest that local communities will benefit directly from the proposed changes. We ask that the government stick with the national party commitment made in October 2008 to “consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the commission are known”. A public referendum must then be held to determine the true wishes of Aucklanders.
We are also concerned that a new structure is being implemented with undue haste without any clear reason for such urgency. The economic climate has altered considerably since Auckland governance was first considered by the Royal Commission. We ask that sufficient time be given to allow for thorough consultation and that any new structure is implemented over a reasonable time frame.
5.2 Implementation costs
There has been inadequate work done to determine the likely costs of implementing a super city structure. All indications point to it being an extremely expensive exercise that is likely to result in a huge cost blow out that will have to be met by substantial rates increases and the sale of public assets. To give one example; a super city structure will require the amalgamation of seven different IT systems. This is an enormous undertaking that has rarely been successfully achieved, on budget, anywhere in the world and certainly not in New Zealand.
We ask that any changes only be implemented after adequate cost analysis has been carried out and then only taken forward if it can be demonstrated that there are tangible economic benefits for local communities.