Date: 2 March 2017
The Local Government Commission has released: ‘Summary of feedback – Community engagement: Local government in Auckland’. This follows an extensive period of public engagement on Auckland local government arrangements between September and December last year.
The programme was carried out by the Commission to support its understanding of local views, particularly in the North Rodney and Waiheke Island communities following applications for local government reorganisation from both areas.
“While the Commission is bound by strict statutory steps in processing reorganisation applications, it is important that we have a good understanding of the community’s views,’’ says lead Auckland Local Government Commissioner Geoff Dangerfield. “The recent engagement programme, including public meetings, drop-in sessions and an on-line survey, has provided insight into a wide range of experiences with local government in Auckland.
“We’d like to thank all those who shared their views with the Commission, and the constructive manner in which they did so. We are now able to share a summary of that feedback.’’
The document, Summary of feedback – Community engagement: local government in Auckland is now available at http://www.lgc.govt.nz/the-reorganisation-process/auckland/. It is a record of the views of people attending the public meetings, drop-in centre sessions – mostly in Rodney and Waiheke – and of those completing an on-line Commission survey.
Mr Dangerfield said the feedback revealed that many people think improvements could be made to local government arrangements in Auckland to reflect the local needs of more isolated and/or rural areas in Auckland. However, there is a variety of views about what improvements are needed and how they could be attained. Among these, a number of common themes emerged and the record is structured accordingly.
The next step for the Commission is to identify the ‘reasonably practical options’ for local government in Auckland. This includes considering whether any new council arrangements would be adequately resourced to fulfil their duties, support efficient performance, comprise a distinct community or communities of interest, and in the case of a regional or unitary authority, enable catchment-based flooding and water management issues to be dealt with effectively. Independent consultants will undertake rigorous financial and economic analysis of the options to support this assessment process.
Under the Act, maintaining the status quo is always included as a ‘reasonably practicable option’. If any additional ‘reasonably practicable options’ are identified, the Commissioners will make a decision on the preferred option. This decision is likely to be made in the second half of 2017.
If the preferred option is not the status quo, the Commission will develop a draft proposal on the preferred option and public consultation will be held.
“We appreciate that this is a lengthy and time-consuming process and would like to acknowledge the patience of interested parties,’’ Mr Dangerfield said. “It is important for all sectors of the community that any change to their local government arrangements will improve outcomes for those communities but also be based on sound evidence and meet the tests in the Local Government Act.’’