Rodney stuck with Supercity

Bill Townson speaks to reporters after the meeting.

Northern Action Group chair Bill Townson abruptly walked out when the Local Government Commission (LGC) announced its decision on the future of local government at a meeting in Warkworth today.

The commission said it had determined that existing local government arrangements in Auckland should remain in place.

The commission rejected alternative proposals such as having a separate unitary authority for Rodney or having the area served by two local boards.

The meeting was held in the Old Masonic Hall and was attended by LGC chair Sir Wira Gardiner, chief executive Suzanne Doig and lead commissioner for Auckland reorganisation Geoff Dangerfield.

Also attending were interested parties who had offered alternative proposals for local government in Rodney.

The Northern Action Group (NAG) has long campaigned for a separate unitary authority for northern Rodney.

Speaking outside the meeting, Mr Townson said the LGC announcement will continue to impose a super-expensive city on disenfranchised rural and coastal communities who are being treated as cash cows.   

Mr Townson said the point of reorganisation was to ensure better democratic local decision making and provision of effective infrastructure and services.

“The preferred option of the Commission pursues none of these ideals and as such we believe they have failed miserably in discharging their statutory duty,” he said.

NAG proposed an administration for north Rodney based on the Thames Coromandel District’s ‘community empowerment’ model, which it says has proved a huge success.

“This Commission is denying our community the same opportunity to thrive,” he said.

But Mr Townson said the Commission’s announcement did not signal the end of the road for NAG.

“Thanks to generous support from our community we are in a position to seriously consider an appeal in the High Court, where we have had success in the past, or a judicial review of the way this commission has conducted this process.”

Speaking on behalf of the Commission, Geoff Dangerfield said the Commission came to the view that a North Rodney Unitary Council was not a viable option and did not meet the requirements of the Local Government Act.

He said a unitary council, combining the functions of a district and regional council, must fulfil a broad sweep of functions, including sensitive environmental management.

The cost of funding all these functions, and securing people with skills and capabilities to carry them out, over a small area was prohibitive.   

“It would result in a 20 per cent rates increase to cover the extra costs that would be involved,” he said.

Mr Dangerfield also dismissed the option of two local boards for Rodney also on the basis of cost.

“We came to the view that for the costs involved the gains were very uncertain, and we stuck with the status quo on that count as well,” he said.

The commission's full decision can be read at www.lgc.govt.nz


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