Waitakere City Council is calling on the Government to reconsider the level of authority that council-controlled organisations have in the new Auckland Council.
A more precautionary approach to establishing council-controlled organisations (CCOs) and better connecting them to the purposes of the council and local boards are among suggestions included in the council’s submission to the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee on the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill.
Other features of its submission are:
The bill establishes CCOs which would be responsible for transport (including roads, footpaths and public transport), Regional Facilities (such as Auckland Zoo, MOTAT and the Trusts Stadium in Waitakere), Watercare (which will take over responsibility for water and wastewater), Economic Development (including tourism and major events), and a Waterfront Development Agency.
“The concern is that much of the business and decision-making that the community expects its council to make will not be made by the new Auckland Council proper but by CCOs,” says Waitakere Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.
She says the council opposes the extent that council activities are being placed at arms length from democratically elected and accountable council members.
“Of particular concern is the way all transport activities are being corporatised and removed from the council’s control.
“If the transfer of functions to CCOs being proposed remains, then additional safeguards and controls need to be introduced.
“A clearer picture of the roles of the Auckland Council and local boards is needed. This should be in the form of a statutory requirement outlining a governance agreement between the governing body and local boards.
“This is something we have previously submitted on and we feel is not sufficiently addressed in the Bill,” says the Deputy Mayor.
“There still is not enough clarity on what powers the local boards will have to make decisions affecting their communities, who makes the decision on how money is spent on local projects, and who will be holding the purse strings,” she says.
"The quality of the relationship between the governing body and local boards will be the litmus test of the success or otherwise of this reform."
A copy of the council’s submission can be found at www.waitakere.govt.nz