Press Release – David Thornton
A meeting of 22 Ratepayer/Residents organisations met last weekend and agreed to form a region-wide grouping of ratepayer, resident and other community organisations, to co-operate in representing local communities, and on their behalf communicate with, and advocate to, the Auckland Council. [Several more Ratepayer Associations have indicated interested in being part of a region-wide group].
The new group is to be named Auckland Region Residents & Ratepayers Group and all local associations and organisations in the region are being invited to join. It is believed that there may be up to 100 or more such organisation within the Auckland Council area.
Prior to the formation of the SuperCity Auckland Council local groups had established relationships and communications with their local Councils and Community Boards which gave them access to detailed information, and informed consultation processes.
Under the Auckland Council local groups felt that they had lost the ability to influence decisions which affected their local communities and their citizens.
While some of the new Local Boards were helpful in dealing with local issues they were not sufficiently independent of Council to act jointly on region-wide issues of common concern to local communities throughout the Auckland region, all of which was governed by the single Auckland Council.
The Group selected three specific issues which were of major concern to ratepayers and residents –
• The Auckland Unitary Plan
• Rates, valuations and Council debt.
• Communications between the Auckland Council and local communities.
Concern about the Unitary Plan is centred on the lack of purely local consultation, especially in relation to areas being chosen for intensification, and supporting infrastructure.
The Group is seeking urgently to be given Stakeholder status by the Council which would give it a place at the table as a means of ensuring early consultation with local communities before the Council commits to any particular development and expansion proposal.
This is absolutely necessary because a special procedure is being adopted which would preclude the rights of appeal against the decisions on the Unitary Plan.
David Thornton, Founder of the NoMoreRates campaign, said – “The NoMoreRates campaign is supportive of the Group and will play a full part in its development.
“NoMoreRates will continue as a largely internet-based campaign with supporters, individual and groups from throughout the country.
“While NoMoreRates maintains its aim of bringing change to the current rating system, and local government funding generally, we are inevitably looking at all council activities which, ultimately affect the rates.
“Many ratepayers are becoming concerned that amalgamation of councils in their area will lead to new structures which are more concerned with sheer size than democratic governance.
“They point to the dis-satisfaction with the Auckland Council becoming more evident every day”
The new Group will be approaching all known local organisations inviting them to join.
The Group will meet again early in the new year to establish a formal structure.