I’m slowly getting through reading the entire report by the Royal Commission on Auckland’s local government, and I have also read quite a few articles giving differing opinions (and a few nice summaries of the important bits) on the Report as well. So I’m starting to get a reasonably well-informed opinion on what it means for Auckland’s local government future, and whether or not it’s a step in the right direction.
As I said the other day, I think overall the changes are good. Auckland needs to be unified and that is what’s largely proposed. The functions of the existing District Councils will be legally shifted to the new Auckland Council, along with the functions of the ARC. There will be six local councils, but their functions will only be what the Auckland Council decides they can do. This is most likely to be focusing on local roads, parks, rubbish collection, footpath upgrades and the like. Planning will be centralised, most major decision will be centralised – with the local councils being basically more powerful community boards. I’m a bit mixed on this, as I think we’d be better off with a few more local councils or with community boards being retained in some form or another. The effectiveness of community boards seems to vary throughout Auckland, and in many cases they have so little power that they are fairly meaningless – but they are the most local form of local government. It would seem that the proposal does “take the local out of local government” to some extent. Maybe that will be something the government messes around with – perhaps deciding on more councils (11 was another proposal) or perhaps insisting that community boards are retained to some extent. I wouldn’t put too much faith in the government sorting it out though – as they generally do the opposite to anything I would think is a good idea. Read the rest of this entry »