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Frustration at Auckland's apparent impotence to deal with major issues because of its fragmented local government structure has led Far North Mayor Wayne Brown to make strong representations seeking change.
In submissions to the Auckland Governance Commission he said there was a broad spectrum of agreement nationwide that New Zealand had at least one and potentially two layers of government which a nation of four million people could well do without.
Firmly in his sights are regional councils which Mr Brown sees as causing widespread misunderstanding and confusion in the public arena and adding to an unnecessarily bureaucratic structure.
He wants to see a centralized Auckland region with a single local government body covering the existing seven councils, the external boundary shrunk to reflect the existing urbanized area, no regional council, and a leader for the new authority elected at large.
"Auckland's borders need to be shrunk back to the urban edge, returning the semi-urban areas to the surrounding rural councils. Community Boards need to be strengthened and given clear mandates and budgets for local decision-making.
"The one large entity needs a handful of well-paid councilors to attract skilled candidates from a cross-section free of the learned behavior exhibited by too many of our existing elected representatives," he says.
"All we need is one well-led council with an urban focus, strong community boards, more accountability and better service delivery.
"What we don't need are regional councils in which the leaders are appointed by the elected members. Too often this leads to representation without a mandate, secured by deal–making and offers of jobs for the boys such as committee chairmanships and seats on boards. A leader has to see the big picture and the mandate has to come from the electorate.
"The seven village structure in Auckland is too big, too cumbersome, with too many elected officials and no ability to think regionally," he says.
Mr Brown says in the Far North things were changing rapidly from a negative, restrictive and bureaucratic council to a responsive, pro-active, customer focused organization in which there are no committees and local decisions are made at a local level.
"In the process what we have learnt is that regional councils are a distinct impediment. Ratepayers don't understand the district and regional council structure and don't understand
why issues with waterways, flooding, erosion, and coastal pollution have to be handled by a remote organization in Whangarei," he says.
This was one of the reasons the Far North council had voted unanimously to work towards a unitary authority for the district.