Posted on August 24, 2015
I attended the meetings of two different local boards, serving even more different communities last week. The Hibiscus and Bays Local Board which combines part of the former Rodney and North Shore Councils, and Manurewa part of former Manukau.
Both boards heard from locals about local issues that not only are they best placed to make decisions on but which also come within local board decision making responsibilities. But, because of the way the Mayor has let the council organisation make decisions, it will be much harder than it should be to deal with the issues raised (a key element in Waiheke Local Board’s push to breakaway from Auckland Council).
At Hibiscus & Bays, a very experienced retail consultant had some great economic development ideas for the Silverdale town centre. In Manurewa, the local youth council reps were raising concerns about the implementation of the Mayor’s “Empowering Communities” plan – and the loss of their volunteer support coordinator despite an assurance this wouldn’t happen.
Local boards have local economic development responsibility. But there is no Auckland Council strategy to develop this (the Auckland Economic Development Strategy is regionally focussed) and so there is no real capability within council to support it.
“Empowering Communities” refers to the planned new operation of council’s community facilities and community development programmes. These are overwhelmingly funded and governed by local boards. Except, much like the libraries or parks, they are run as network businesses and effectively controlled centrally – with local boards having marginal funding which they control for grants and sometimes minor assets like walkways.
Both these boards have highly experienced Chairs with diverse and committed boards. Yet the principle that the Super City was founded on of “decisions are best made at the local level unless there is good reason not to” has been replaced by the Mayor and councillors in Standing Orders with: “Decisions should be made at a level commensurate with efficiency and effectiveness.”
The objects of Orewa would matter more, and Manurewa would object less about their matters if the next Mayor leads a rewrite of these Standing Orders to reflect the way Auckland Council should be working. It’s on my list.