AUCKLAND COUNCIL with George Wood
Busy start to the new Auckland Council term
Another term of Auckland Council is starting. I always find it interesting as to how long it takes to go through all the “housekeeping” that is required briefing all the elected members on our responsibilities and duties. Local Government is a great bureaucratic machine and it certainly means there are many discussions on a whole host of subject matter as we move into the new term.
Starting a new term always takes me back to my school days. We come back to find a nucleus of the former councillors but with a number of new faces in the ranks. I had previously worked with my new North Shore ward colleague Councillor Chris Darby at North Shore City in the 2004 - 2007 term.
Both Mr Darby and I have agreed to meet regularly to discuss matters of concern to the North Shore ward area. I am certain that we will have a good working relationship and will advocate strongly for the North Shore.
I must say that I am very pleased that Mayor Len Brown has promised to look closely at the level of Auckland Council borrowing in the next ten to fifteen years. This must occur if the mayor plans to also control rate increases to a maximum of 2.5% year-on-year. My colleagues and I who are placed on the centre-right of the political spectrum have made it known that we believe the level of spending to far
Now that it is clear that the mayor will lead with spending issues it makes it far more certain that we will get some improvements in controlling the debt levels. It is also very apparent that there is no wriggle room to add in new spending programmes. Even projects that are on the current capital works programme will be subject to review.
It is interesting that the Chief Executive of Auckland Council Mr Doug McKay has now agreed that an inquiry will be held into the actions of Mayor Len Brown and his relationship with Ms Bevan Chuang. Auckland Council does have an extensive Code of Conduct document which covers what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour of elected members. The document was recently reviewed and signed up to by the former Governing Body of the council. Therefore until the results of the inquiry are known any further comment is just speculation.
Notwithstanding the issues surrounding Mayor Len Brown it is important that the business of the Auckland Council continues unabated. I am most anxious to play a role in the formation of council policy
in the new term of council; however, it is important that I still have freedom to advocate and vote as a free agent.
I was able to serve an apprenticeship in the last term of council as deputy chairman of both the Auckland Plan committee, that handled the unitary plan, and the Accountability and Performance committee that handles the Council Controlled Organisations.
I was also the chairman of the Community Safety Forum which played a role in the formation of the region wide graffiti eradication policy along with a number of initiatives in the crime prevention area. This forum relating to community safety was also closely aligned to the Civil Defence and Emergency Management Committee where I acted as deputy chairman to Councillor Michael Goudie.
The formation of policy in the setting of a council is essential. Now that Auckland is one local authority area it is important the well thought our and tested policies are prepared. That preparation can be a long and drawn out process. I do wish to play a pivotal role in this policy development work.
At the time of writing I am still considering my position as to what role I will play in the new council.