The Local Government Commission rejected Our Waiheke’s bid to become a unitary council separate from Auckland, but it has made several recommendations.
A bid by the Northern Action Group in respect of the Rodney area was also rejected. The commission found that the present local government structures should stay in place, but has released its recommendations to Auckland Council on a range of issues.
They are non-binding but the council is required to consider them and report back in July and November.
Auckland Council has welcomed the move and says some of the recommendations respond to issues already identified through its own Governance Framework Review.
It is implementing the recommendations of that review, and progress reports are provided to a working party made up of local board and governing body members.
The commission process and framework review identified areas for improvement, and the council says it welcomes the opportunity to do better.
The drivers of Auckland’s amalgamation were stronger regional decision-making and greater community engagement and decision-making at the local level.
There has been criticism that the council’s focus has been region wide ahead of local since amalgamation. The commission said that was understandable with the issues of transport, environment and housing, but was unsustainable in the long-term and inconsistent with the intent of amalgamation.
Its inquiries have led to a pilot programme on Waiheke designed to encourage greater decision-making at the local level.
In agreement with the Waiheke Local Board, the programme’s manager is managing projects of interest to the board and community, and coordinating input on them across the council, while reporting back frequently.
The manager aims to report back to the Governing Body in May regarding plans for the ferry terminal area at Matiatia.
Evaluation of the pilot is underway and council will respond to the commission’s recommendations in July.
Rodney Local Board has met with council’s Corporate Property team to discuss the location of board offices, which the board says must be in the communities represented.