Published 24 January 2010
Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has declined Franklin District Council’s application to become a unitary authority. The council made its formal request on 2 December and Mr Hide responded on 15 January.
In the reorganisation of Auckland governance, Franklin will be spilt between the new Auckland Council, the Waikato District Council & the Hauraki District Council.
In his letter of reply, Mr Hide said: “I firmly believe that the reorganisation of the current 8 Auckland councils into one council for the whole region will strengthen the region’s governance, and result in cost savings for ratepayers and tangible benefits to Auckland’s communities. I will not, therefore, be initiating any other reorganisation proposal for councils within the Auckland region whilst this governance work is underway.”
Franklin District mayor Mark Ball said: “I’m extremely disappointed by the minister’s blatant disregard of the wishes of the vast majority of people in Franklin. Franklin meets the criteria for becoming a unitary authority. We have the population needed & the governance ability. It is an absolute travesty of democracy that the minister has rejected our application. In his letter, the minister states that he believes the reorganisation of Auckland will result in cost savings for ratepayers. However, I believe this is very unlikely for the people of Franklin.”
Mr Ball said Franklin had 2 other avenues left under the Local Government Act to become a unitary authority: “These are: gaining the agreement of the Auckland Regional Council & Environment Waikato, which we have sought but have not had a response to yet; or to have a petition signed by at least 10% of the electors of each of the affected regions. This would mean 186,000 signatures in total – 140,000 from the Auckland region, 40,000 from the Waikato region & 6000 from Franklin. In our view, this is simply unobtainable, and would be a waste of ratepayers’ money should we even attempt the exercise.”
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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.