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Meetings ‘helpful’ - last call for online survey

Date: 7 November 2016

The Local Government Commission completed the current phase of its Auckland community engagement programme last week and issued a reminder of its online survey on Auckland local government arrangements.

Members of the Commission met with the Northern Action Group (NAG), Our Waiheke (OW), Auckland Council staff, and members of the public in Kumeu. These events were part of an information gathering programme to help the Commission come to a view on the reasonably practicable options for local government in Auckland.

This process was triggered by applications for unitary councils from NAG, based in North Rodney, and Our Waiheke on Waiheke Island respectively, and last week’s meetings were an opportunity for these groups to present their reorganisation applications formally to the Commission. Chair Sir Wira Gardiner said that although he and fellow commissioners Geoff Dangerfield and Janie Annear were closely familiar with the proposals, hearing first-hand from the applicants was valuable.

“It is always rewarding to sit down with people and hear directly from them, and on this occasion both presentations were professional and helpful. There was also a good opportunity for questions and answers, flowing both ways.’’

He added that the chance to hear from members of the public in Kumeu was equally positive and underlined many of the issues that had been raised with the Commission in other forums. “One of our mandates is to work out the best form of local government for the affected communities. These are extremely complex matters and it is critical that we get them right,’’ Sir Wira said.

The Commissioners had also had a “constructive’’ meeting with Auckland Council staff, and had been present at the inaugural Auckland Governing Body meeting.

Sir Wira wanted to remind the general public they could still have their say through the Commission’s online survey (Talking to Auckland Communities) which closes on 11 November.

Local Government Commission Chief Executive Dr Suzanne Doig said that the serious work programme, including rigorous financial analysis, behind identifying the reasonably practicable options and refining those to reach a preferred option would likely begin early in 2017. While reluctant to put a time-frame on the reorganisation process, which is set down in the Local Government Act, Dr Doig said that definitive progress on options was unlikely before the second half of next year.

While a few stakeholder meetings were yet to take place, last week’s public meeting in Kumeu concluded the successful first phase of the Commission’s community engagement programme on Auckland local government arrangements. This included five drop-in sessions, eight public meetings and a number of individual stakeholder contacts in Rodney and on Waiheke Island.