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Citizens And Ratepayers Councillors Vote For Super City Wards Gerrymander

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

At Auckland City Council's Regional Governance Committee today, Chair David Hay and all his Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) councillor colleagues voted down a motion by Councillor Northey to ask the Local Government Commission to split its proposed 160,000 two-Councillor Supercity wards into accessible and representative single-member wards. The C&R Councillors also voted down specific motions to split the proposed huge south and eastern suburbs ward stretching from Orakei to Onehunga into two wards with common interests and concerns and to split Mt Albert and Mt Roskill into two separate single-member wards.

Labour Tamaki-Maungakiekie Ward Councillor Richard Northey said, "I am bitterly disappointed that C&R have, for reasons of political advantage, rejected the heartfelt appeals from residents and businesses at public meetings in Onehunga, Otahuhu and Panmure to retain their distinctive local ward representation. They have been ringing and button-holing me to tell me that they have virtually nothing in common with Remuera and the Eastern Bays and that they need a voice on the new Council to advocate to keep up local employment, protect the Manukau foreshore and for a pool in Otahuhu. C&R went a step further and are asking that Otahuhu now be booted into a South Auckland ward to make sure they can get two right-wing Eastern Suburbs Councillors, who are supposedly to represent Mt Wellington and Onehunga."

City Vision Eden-Albert Ward Councillor Cathy Casey said, "At a public meeting on the boundaries held last night in the Eden-Albert Ward, people were clearly angry at the annexing of Mt Eden to the central city ward and their 'theft' of the name 'Maungawhau'. There was also a strong plea made on behalf of Waterview residents to include that community as part of the new Mt Albert-Mt Roskill Ward. Discussion centred on the new ward giving back Epsom and Greenlane so that Mt Eden could be reclaimed and Waterview welcomed."

City Vision Eden-Albert Ward Councillor Glenda Fryer said, "The Local Government Commission has split the two local town centres of Eden Valley and Mt Eden between two different wards, which contravenes their own guidelines. The iconic volcanic cone of Maungawhau-Mt Eden should rightly be in the same ward as the suburb of Mt Eden which surrounds the mountain. The people of Mt Eden want the heart of their ward, the maunga and town centre back into a single member ward which includes both Maungawhau-Mt Eden and Owairaka-Mt Albert."

Labour Tamaki-Maungakiekie Ward Councillor Leila Boyle said, "It is really important that representation on the local boards is equivalent across the region. I think that one local board member to every 10,000 people would be a good rule of thumb to follow to ensure equal representation at the local board level across the whole region. Some of the region's local boards get close to this level of representation, but some of the others are wildly different. I would be very worried if I was living in Waitakere (1 board member to 19,000 people), Maungawhau (1 board member to 16,000 people) or Glenfield-Birkenhead (1 board member to 14,000 people) where their representation is much reduced."

City Vision Western Bays Ward Councillor Graeme Easte said, "Why should Auckland have a lower standard of local democracy than the rest of the country? Given that we will soon have one councillor per 70,000 people, it is essential that the new local boards are truly local - yet several of the proposed boards will be similar in size to the cities of Dunedin or Hamilton."

Hauraki Gulf Islands Ward Independent Councillor Denise Roche said, "The proposed ward and local board arrangements are bad for democracy. Fewer elected representatives means less of a chance for the average person to have their say about the things they care about in their community. The Commission had the chance to create 20 to 30 local boards - but they decided on 19. I think they've blown their chance to get more people interested in local government."

Councillor Northey concluded, "I urge residents and businesses to make their own submissions on what Supercity ward and local board boundaries they want to the Local Government Commission before the deadline at 5pm this Friday. Letters may be sent to PO Box 5362 in Wellington, faxed to (04) 494 0501 or emailed to info@lgc.govt.nz. Further information on the Local Government Commission's proposals, including maps, can be found at www.lgc.org.nz."

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