Posted on August 6, 2015
Auckland Council has established a working party of a few councillors and local board members to improve the working relationship between the two arms of Auckland’s governance.
This came out of the difficult Long Term Plan process which, amongst many other things, saw all 21 local boards sign a protest letter to Mayor Brown complaining they were not being listened to, and their local community priorities were being addressed adequately.
Auckland Council’s governance is unique (in the true sense of the world). A co-governance model that was designed to sort out the regional disputes that were holding Auckland back, while strengthening the role of local communities.
Interestingly, it was never designed by the Royal Commission which spent 17 months researching and designing a new model. What we have today was designed under Hon Rodney Hide’s leadership as Minister of Local Government and confirmed by the Government as part of the reform package.
The shared, co-governance aspirations have been struggling ever since.
The principal reason for this is the Mayor’s lack of drive to implement it as conceived, and his preference for regional priorities. The council organisation has followed his lead.
The working party will likely focus on issues such as the relationships between councillors and local boards members, being more civil/respectful, working more collaboratively, not being so critical of each other – all that good stuff.
However if that is all they end up with, not much will change.
Co-governance means the two arms both have responsibility and funding for the things they are responsible for.
So unless we fundamentally re-work the way we make decisions, and start to trade off (lower priority) regional priorities for (top) local priorities, then the working party will not have done nearly enough work.