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Super-city concerns bring residents together

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012

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Dissatisfaction with the new super-city council has led to a new super lobby group.

Representatives of about 20 diverse resident and ratepayer groups attended a meeting on the North Shore to create the Auckland Region Residents and Ratepayers Group on November 17.

The Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association was the instigator, its chairman and the new group's acting chairman Grant Taylor says.

"We decided that smaller associations really don't carry much weight with the new Auckland Council," he says.

"We felt that with things that affect us regionally, we as a stand-alone association really wouldn't carry much weight."

Contributing groups identified more than 80 issues of concern.

Many involved the Unitary Plan process, rates, communication with council, transport and democracy.

"You could write a list as long as your arm, but we wanted to really focus on those key things."

Mr Taylor says concern over the Unitary Plan "came out on top" at the meeting and those present agreed to ask the council to give the group "stakeholder status".

"We are not out to cut the legs from under the council but what we want to do is be part of the decision-making when they are putting the information together, rather than responding after they've got the draft out of whatever it might be."

He says history shows the chances of changing any council plan once a draft has been written are "basically zero".

"We are saying, ‘well hang on, we happen to be the ratepayers here, we are paying you to do your job and we want to have an involvement in that'."

David Thornton of the No More Rates campaign says he is supportive of the new group and is playing a role in its development.

"Under the Auckland Council, local groups felt that they had lost the ability to influence decisions which affected their local communities and their citizens," he says.

"They point to the dissatisfaction with the Auckland Council becoming more evident every day."

Mr Thornton says local boards are helpful in dealing with local issues but are not sufficiently independent of the council.

He says there are about 100 residents and ratepayers groups in the council area and they are all invited to join.

The new group plans to meet again early next year to appoint a chairperson and establish a structure.

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- Eastern Courier

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