Wellington Scoop

We’re starting to plan our super city, as Aucklanders are dismayed by their’s

At the same time as Wellington’s mayors and their advisors are meeting to discuss the need for a super-city in this region, the concerns from Aucklanders about Auckland’s super-city arrangements are getting louder and louder.

Yesterday’s Herald reported that the two leading mayoral candidates are “aghast” at plans for agencies which will be virtually unanswerable to the public. The paper says the super-city will mean that Aucklanders are locked out of decisions affecting their waterfront – as well as important transport issues including road congestion.

It’s evident that Wellington’s mayors are pursuing their own super-city discussions at a time when Aucklanders – to whom it’s happening now – are becoming alarmed about the nature of their new metropolis. Their main complaint is that democracy has been shut out, with major decisions being made by un-elected officials.

The Herald has written that there is a “growing chorus” asking the Government to ditch the corporate model for the super city and to provide a greater voice for democracy. Auckland’s community boards are among the groups who have been stating their concerns.

Greater Wellington Regional Council chair Fran Wilde was giving reassurances before the Auckland concerns had surfaced. She said earlier this year that our mayoral group is looking at what’s best for Wellington, and “that’s not going to be what has happened in Auckland.” Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast has said that changes must be made to keep this region “relevant.” But the Auckland reaction should be sounding alarms for our local politicians and voters.

Wellington’s mayors started meeting four months ago to begin a review of regional governance; last month Wellington city councilors were given a 15 page report asking them to agree on the scope of work and a timeline. They were told that community consultation was not required in finalising the terms of reference.

“It is timely to be proactive,” wrote a staff member whose title is senior advisor, executive strategy and stakeholder relationships. He said the mayors will be asked to choose a preferred option by March 2012. Which makes it sound like: not if, but when.

The Wellington discussions will however have the benefit of knowing about the concerns being expressed in Auckland. From right to left reports the Herald, from John Banks and Michael Barnett to Len Brown and Mike Lee, Auckland’s local politicians are protesting at a distinctly undemocratic element in the constitution being written for the super city. The Herald says an appointed body will be able to make big decisions behind closed doors without public scrutiny or participation. This, says the paper with much restraint, is a recipe for severe disappointment when the super city was presented to Aucklanders as a device to give a strong, united voice.

Such a result would also be a severe disappointment for Wellingtonians, familiar with recent examples of the city council’s predeliction for making decisions in a similar manner.

And who will be making decisions about the final decisions for Wellington? While the Auckland plans are being driven by the Government, it seems that for the rest of the country changes may not be imposed but may be introduced in response to local initiatives. Which places a great responsibility on our regional mayors as they meet to decide whether change is necessary, and if it is necessary how it can be introduced without the outcry which is now being heard throughout Auckland. The fact that they are meeting behind closed doors does not make a good beginning to the process.

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  1. The City is Ours Inc., 9. March 2010, 13:35

    It seems both Ms. Wilde and Ms. Prendergast have adopted a pro-active stance in an attempt to bring the Super City forward and upon us.

  2. rendrag, 10. March 2010, 1:20

    Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast has said that changes must be made to keep this region “relevant.”

    What’s that supposed to mean?

    Considering Parliament, the Arts and the Film Industry how are we in danger of becoming irrelevant?

    Maybe it’s just a case of large egos wanting more control over a larger area.

  3. Allan Probert, 10. March 2010, 5:31

    Supercity is an option that politicians seem hell bent to foist on us, regardless of ratepayer opinion or concern. The reports coming out of Auckland via the Herald indicate that the bureaucrats have got hold of the process and community consultation and input are out the window! There are certainly no savings. Sensible options such as better regional cooperation and sharing of resources need to happen and wcc needs to look at its own bloated staffing to make savings, as continual rate increases above the rate of inflation are unjustified and unnecessary! Amalgamation should be discussed sensibly and the public should be brought along with the process.

  4. Sonja, 12. March 2010, 7:29

    The only reason for a supercity is for more power – Prendergast and Wilde need to look after their own city and leave the running of the other cities to their elected mayors who actually care for their cities.

  5. ViV, 12. March 2010, 9:05

    They only have power because ordinary citizens allow it to happen through their apathy.