Auckland’s New Secret-City: North Shore City Worries About Asset Sell-Off
North Shore council has joined the chorus of complaints about the Auckland secret-city bill, which includes details (or the lack of them) about the new Transport Auckland body.
In its submission to the government, the North Shore City Council says the accountability of Transport Auckland to the new Auckland council ‘is of concern and needs further work.’
And it joins in the chorus of concern about the new body being able to make all its decisions in secret. The council says it’s concerned that the legislation allows for CCOs to make decisions behind closed doors, and contains weak protection against a sell-off of vital assets such as water and wastewater services.
Mayor Andrew Williams calls strongly for open and co-operative governance.
“There is a very real risk that the disparate entities – the Auckland Council, the local boards and the proposed raft of CCOs – will be even less cohesive than our current structure,” he says.
“As the legislation now stands, there is no requirement that the Auckland Council, the Local Boards and the proposed raft of CCOs talk to each other, much less work together.”
“All tiers of government should work together, and decision-making should be at the lowest practicable level, which in many cases will be by the Local Boards.
Importantly, the distinctive character of individual communities needs to be recognised, allowed for and funded adequately.”
The council’s submission says that there’s high expectation across the Auckland region that transport will be the issue to be sorted out through the change to Auckland’s governance, ” says the submission.
“However there appears to be insufficient clarity about what Auckland Transport will do and what the Auckland council will do, to ensure an integrated and holistic approach is taken, not only to transport when defined as the roading network, but the other peripheral aspects that affect local communities.
“The objectives and operating principles of Auckland Transport need to be amended.
It also worries that given the relative autonomy of the new body to manage the Auckland transport system, there’s no guarantee that transport land-use integration “will be given more than minimum attention.”
Mayor Williams says that the bill requires the creation of an Auckland Spatial Plan, which ideally would provide a blueprint for the development of Auckland over the next 30 years.
The plan would spell out social, economic and cultural objectives, and set out a plan for those objectives to be achieved.
Mayor Williams says that the development and implementation of this plan should provide Auckland with the cohesive decision-making and development that is needed.
However, says Mayor Williams, the legislation as it stands does not provide for a cohesive approach to the Spatial Plan.
“It is critical that the Auckland Council and its associated CCOs be required to contribute to the Spatial Plan, and then be consistent with the plan once it is developed.”
He says that the legislation as it now stands does not give the people of the North Shore any reason for optimism as regards grass-roots decision-making.
“Despite earlier assurances, underpinned by a Cabinet requirement, the functions and powers of the 20-odd Local Boards remain undefined.
“It has been left to the Auckland Transition Agency to specify the boards’ roles and powers. This is out of step with the legislative process. In our view, it is crucial that the powers of Local Boards are enshrined in legislation. The Minister appears to have missed this particular bus. “
Mayor Williams says that his council has once again called for a guarantee that Auckland’s water and wastewater services should never be sold into private ownership.
He says he will argue all these points very strong when he goes before the parliamentary select committee when it considers the submissions.