Is local government delivering for Aucklanders?

East Auckland residents will no doubt have noticed the Auckland Council elections are in full swing with numerous candidate billboards in place across town.

As the local-body elections in October draw near, we can rightly ponder whether Aucklanders are getting the standard of services we deserve from our council.

A large part of my job, and the work done through my Botany Electorate Office, involves helping locals navigate the council’s extensive bureaucracy to achieve a positive outcome with whatever issue they may have.

Some of these are very public issues, such as trying to improve safety at Tarnica Park in Northpark. Others are smaller local issues such as getting overgrown trees cut or removing abandoned vehicles.

Residents near Tarnica Park want safety measures installed at their local green space to reduce the instances of drinking, fighting and anti-social behaviour.

It took a large effort from a group of fed-up local residents and myself by pressuring the Howick Local Board for many months to get traction and have these reasonable safety concerns addressed.

Such local issues should be dealt with quickly and effectively and it’s disappointing when they aren’t.

Sadly Aucklanders do not experience high levels of service to match our ever increasing rates bills.

It’s been almost a decade since the super-city Auckland Council was amalgamated into a single entity in late 2010.

Residents may ask whether the Parliament did the right thing by merging the seven individual city and district Councils across Auckland into one giant organisation.

We should also ask whether the CCO model works well. Auckland Transport, Watercare, and several other companies operate at arms length from elected representatives, often out of citizens’ grasp.

Local Government reviews and restructures in New Zealand tends to go in ten-yearly cycles.

It’s timely to ask whether we should review how the Council operates, whether amalgamation has resulted in the wins for local people that we were expecting, and if its current structure could be made more efficient.

If we didn’t get it right, maybe it’s time we thought about how to fix it.

Equally locals may well look at the representatives currently serving on the Howick Local Board and ask whether they have delivered, or if new leadership is needed in local government in East Auckland.

  • Jami-Lee Ross, MP for Botany