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Papakura District Mayor Calum Penrose says his Council is “deeply disappointed” by the Government’s decision on the future of the Auckland region.
The structure announced today opts for one Council and a second tier of 20-30 “Local Boards”, limiting the Boards to advocacy roles with no power.
Boards will have no power to set rates. They would have to “petition” the Auckland Council on behalf of residents for particular additional services needed in their area at additional cost to the ratepayers of that area.
“To all intents and purposes Papakura is still going to lose its identity because Papakura people will now lose their access to the key decision makers. Under the new structure, there will be one elected representative for every 70,000 people in the region,” he said.
Mr Penrose says the Government has adopted a structure that “rips the guts out of local democracy”. While most people saw a need to streamline some functions at regional level and improve regional decision-making, the Government’s announcement would centralise power and result in a real loss of local input in communities like Papakura.
“The new structure clearly focuses power in the Auckland Council and does not give any sense that the voice of communities like Papakura can be heard effectively on matters that directly affect them. We believe in this respect the many Papakura people who made submissions to the Royal Commission in support of keeping local democracy have been totally ignored,” he said.
When the Royal Commission’s recommendation was announced the Council had pushed strongly for greater representation, and had joined other Auckland Mayors in advocating for more emphasis on local democracy.
“This is not what our community wanted.”