Key role for local boards, Select Committee told

General News | 02/26/2010

Key role for local boards, Select Committee told

Auckland Council’s local boards will play a key role in strengthening community representation when they begin work this November, a Select Committee on Auckland governance legislation has been told.

Grant Taylor, local government advisor with the Auckland Transition Agency (ATA), said the agency – which has to plan and manage the transition to Auckland’s new local government arrangements – was proposing to allocate significant responsibilities to local boards.

A 53-page discussion document on Auckland Council’s local boards is issued for feedback today.  A dedicated website for feedback – www.discussiondocuments.co.nz – has been set up, and copies are also being circulated by all of Auckland’s existing city, district and regional councils. The deadline for feedback is Friday March 26.

Mr Taylor said: "For many Aucklanders, local boards will be the face of local government. Local boards will meet regularly with the communities they represent, they will understand their needs and help deal with the things that concern local people."

Under the model proposed by the ATA local boards will oversee:

  • Local facilities – such as community parks, halls, swimming pools, sports fields and libraries
  • Local programmes and activities – such as local events, community arts and culture programmes, community advisory services and social housing initiatives
  • Local services – such as enhanced rubbish removal, graffiti control and cleaning programmes for the local area.

The boards will reflect the distinct characteristics and needs of their communities in a wide range of non-regulatory areas. Mr Taylor said: "In allocating these activities instead of asking ‘why should local boards undertake this work?’ we asked the question ‘why not’."

"They are intended to have a significant and wide-ranging role and the budget to deliver local services. For many people the boards will be the face of local government," Mr Taylor said.

Under legislation, the ATA is required to undertake the initial allocation of non-regulatory decision-making.

The delegation of regulatory responsibilities to local boards will be done by the Auckland Council after its establishment on November 1. It is not the ATA’s role to delegate regulatory responsibilities. But in its discussion document the ATA suggests that decisions on things like liquor control (such as a liquor ban in a local park), location and signage for brothels, and restrictions on activity within local public places (such as street trading) could be matters that the governing body may consider delegating to local boards.

Additionally, local boards will provide important input into the development of regional strategies, policies, plans and projects and they will be able to propose local bylaws to the governing body of the Auckland Council.

Under the proposals boards may in future levy "targeted rates" on specific areas – for example for local town centre improvements – with the agreement of the governing body.

The closing date for feedback on the discussion document is Friday March 26.