Rejection a drag for NAG

NAGGING ON: NAG chairman Bill Townson gives the Auckland Council the thumbs down and says the next step could be a judicial review.
NAGGING ON: NAG chairman Bill Townson gives the Auckland Council the thumbs down and says the next step could be a judicial review.

North Auckland has to stick with the super-city after an application to create a new authority was declined.

The Local Government Commission declined an application from Warkworth Northern Action Group, NAG, for the creation of a new local authority, independent of the Auckland Council.

The commission released its decision this week on the reorganisation application the group made in November.

It proposed a North Rodney Unitary Council, comprising a mayor and five councillors, with boundaries from Puhoi to Te Hana, including Warkworth, Wellsford and Kawau Island.

The commission declined to assess the application. This means it does not proceed through the first stage of the reorganisation process.

Group spokesman Bill Townson says he is very disappointed at the decision that took eight months to make.

He says the arguments presented are flawed and that the only way forward is to fund a judicial review.

"We are having a committee meeting next week and getting legal advice."

Commission chief executive officer Donald Riezebos says the application needed to meet a number of tests under legislation to proceed.

Riezebos says the application failed for a number of reasons, including a lack of clarity about the boundary of the proposed unitary authority, there was insufficient information to establish demonstrable community support for a new council in parts of the Auckland district outside the North Rodney area, and it is not in the public interest to assess the application.

Townson says they provided descriptive boundary details with their application.

"To say we didn't provide enough detail is nonsense."

Riezebos says the first two tests regarding the information about boundaries and the level of public support are not necessarily sufficient reason by themselves to decline to assess an application.

He says the commission approached the public interest consideration by breaking it down into two questions: ‘What impacts would there be on people if the commission were to proceed to assess the application?' And ‘are those impacts sufficiently important that it would not be appropriate to assess the application?'

The commission took into account the Auckland Council was established less than four years ago. It says the process that led to its establishment involved a Royal Commission and legislation specific to the Auckland region. The council's northern boundary was subject to considerable debate.

Also considered were the potential impacts on the public if the commission decided to assess the North Rodney application.

The commission says impacts included uncertainty and confusion about Auckland governance.

But Townson says this is not right.

"The effect, if we were a separate authority, would be minimal, as we are such a small population part."

The commission weighed up all these factors and concluded it is not in the broader public interest to assess the application.

Rodney Times