Archive | Auckland City Council structure

Hay recipe put in place at Auckland City

Published 5 November 2007Auckland City Council went through the motions of contested appointments at the first meeting of the new council on1 November, but in reality there will be no contest through the next 3 years.

It is like a rugby game where you’re told the score at the start of the match and, lo, it’s the same at the end. In this match, apart from the occasional hiccup, the score is 14-6. John Banks, back in the mayoral robes after losing to Dick Hubbard in 2004, looked decidedly bored as he churned through certain voting outcomes.

When Mr Banks stormed into the mayoralty 6 years ago he told the defeated City Vision & Labour camps: “We won, you lost.” This time round, Labour councillor & minority leader Richard Northey conceded: “We accept you won, we lost, but we want to work hard and contribute to the development of the city.”

Cllr Northey and City Vision councillors Glenda Fryer & Cathy Casey then tried to achieve some changes to the committee structure proposed by deputy mayor David Hay, who’d spent the last 3 years of left-wing city council control up the hill at the Auckland Regional Council.

The new councillors adding to the Citizens & Ratepayers majority sat & watched in silence then voted dutifully for the Hay recipe, under which they are the chief beneficiaries. 4 of the 5 chairmen are new councillors, with Cllr Doug Armstrong returning to his finance stewardship.

Most of the proposed changes were for practical rather than points-scoring reasons – Cllr Northey felt the new city development committee should be split in 2 to ease the workload, one arm for planning & regulatory, the other for city development.

One proposal that was never going to fly was Cllr Northey’s suggestion that he & Cllr Fryer be the deputy chairmen of these 2 committees, to use their experience. Auckland City Council political appointments fall according to the ideological divide unless some horse-trading is needed, and this time round that isn’t needed.

Cllr Fryer, who chaired the previous planning & regulatory committee, wanted the present role of the planning fixtures committee retained – again because of workload – and also wanted 3 elected commissioners with one independent on resource consent & bylaw panels.

The council stuck with the Hay proposal, which is for panels to have only one elected member and for independents to be delegated to make decisions on consent & bylaw applications that don’t require a hearing, closing the door on applications previously considered by the planning fixtures committee & that committee’s predecessors. The planning fixtures overview will move to the new city development committee, minus the work done by independents.

Cllr Hay’s biggest concern has been with the inordinately large amount of time to be devoted to hearing submissions on the Gulf Islands plan review and the reviews of the consolidated bylaws and the isthmus & central area district plan. Cllr Hay wants a panel of 3 elected members & an independent for the Gulf Islands review and similar for the others, but for workshops to be held for the approach to be finalised.

The Gulf Islands panel will be chosen soon, the bylaws panel by February, the central area panel in the second quarter of 2008.

Cllr Casey gave reasons of experience & performance when she suggested a number of changes to the committee appointments, including nominating CitRat councillor Toni Millar to chair the arts committee in place of new councillor Greg Moyle, and another sitting CitRat councillor, Noelene Raffills to chair the community services committee in place of another new councillor, Paul Goldsmith.

While the nominations of left-wing councillors were predictably defeated, the Millar & Raffills preferences were also rejected. New Waiheke Island councillor won left-wing support to be on bodies dealing with island matters, but that proposition also met the silent stare.

Cllr Mark Donnelly – on the CitRats ticket when he won election 6 years ago, defeated in 2004 and elected on a local action ticket this time – proposed a review of regulatory processes, which will be reported back to the city development committee by the council chief executive rather than to Cllr Donnelly’s preference of a working party.

Committee chair & deputy appointments:

Arts, culture, recreation, chairman Cllr Greg Moyle, deputy Cllr Toni MillarCity development, chairman Cllr Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, deputy Cllr Graeme MulhollandCommunity services, chairman Cllr Paul Goldsmith, deputy Cllr Noelene RaffillsFinance & strategy, chairman Cllr Doug Armstrong, deputy Cllr Aaron BhatnagarTransport, chairman Cllr Ken Baguley, deputy Cllr Linda Leighton.

Among the minor committees, Cllr Hay will chair the regional governance committee (focus on the inquiry into regional governance), with Cllr Bhatnagar as his deputy, Cllrs Armstrong & Northey as members.

One matter not finalised is the remuneration structure, which will go to a workshop of Cllrs Hay, Armstrong & Northey. Cllr Hay proposed increases for council chair & deputy appointments for their increased responsibility, and to reduce community board remuneration by more than 20% to help pay for it.

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Attribution: Council meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Hay sets out council political model – more independent commissioner work, community board remuneration slashed

Published 31 October 2007Auckland City deputy mayor David Hay will put his proposal for a cut in committees to the council tomorrow night, but says councillors will actually have a bigger workload because of a number of major reviews.

He wants to increase payments to committee chairmen, introduce more substantial roles for their deputies – and to pay for a large portion of that he wants to slash payments to community boards.

In the past 3 years, management of notified consents was put in the hands of the planning fixtures committee – a full committee separate from the planning & regulatory committee, which dealt with bylaws, including the controversial signs & billboards bylaw reviews.

Those roles will revert to a city development committee under the Hay proposal. Cllr Hay’s preferred option for consent hearings is for most of it to be done by independent commissioners, supported by one councillor on some occasions “to provide community input if considered necessary”.

The deputy chairman of the city development committee will be charged with overseeing the bylaw & district plan review programme, which includes a revised scheme to get through the Hauraki Gulf Islands section of the district plan review and continuation of the bylaws review.

Independent commissioners will be delegated to make decisions on:

resource consent applications that don’t require a hearing, and which aren’t currently delegated to staffdispensations from the bylaws, including signs & billboard bylaws, andother regulatory consent matters.

The council had 11 major & 3 minor committees over the last term. Cllr Hay wants to retain the minor committees and reduce the majors to 5:

Arts, culture, recreationCity developmentTransport & infrastructureFinance & strategy, andCommunity services.

He will add a regional governance committee, which will deal with the inquiry into Auckland governance and meet as required.

In his paper, Cllr Hay set out a series of criticisms of the structure of the past 3 years, benefits of his proposed scheme and how the pool of funds allocated to Auckland City Council governance should be split up.

Cllr Hay said the number & structure of committees in the past 3 years facilitated extensive coverage of the council’s key business areas, but had unintended consequences: 

A general feeling of increased busyness compared to the previous term of council: 14 committees & 2 boards created high workloads for councillors, both in terms of attending & preparing for meetingsA blurring of responsibilities & delegations between committees: The high number of committees created overlapping accountabilities, and at times led to confused decisionmakingToo many reports to read: 14 committees & 2 boards created a need for more papers to be written, creating a workload burden for councillors & staffToo many briefings & workshops with no obvious purpose or outcome: Despite the large number of committees, there was also a practice of setting up additional briefings & workshops. This created even more time pressures for councillors and risks around delegationsToo many working parties & sub-committees: As with briefings & workshops, this added workload to councillors and potential for confusion over delegationsLimited time to schedule other required activities such as hearings: Because of all the committee commitments, there was often insufficient time available for councillors to participate in other council responsibilitiesDiscouraged governance at a high level: The focus of some committees was more operational rather than governance.

Cllr Hay proposes that the city development committee will deal with:

urban growthcharacter & heritageurban designsustainabilityeconomic developmentinfrastructure (excluding transport)central area & waterfrontdistrict plans & bylaws, andinternational relations.

He said the benefits of the proposed structure included clear accountabilities & delegations for councillors & the organisation:

fewer meetings requireddistinct areas of focus for councillorsdeduced workload for the organisation, allowing for improved quality of advice & reportswould free councillors up to act as advocates for constituents, andgreater focus on high-level governance.

Under the Hay model, cutting the number of committees will save about $570,000 in remuneration of chairmen, but adding responsibilities for their deputies will add about $290,000 to the bill. He proposes savings at the community board level – $90,000 by cutting members’ honorariums 20%, from $10,161 to $8000, and $47,000 by cutting chairmen’s honorariums 23%, from $20,729 to $16,000.

The net effect of additions & reductions would be to create a pool of $181,000 from which those taking part in the hearings for the district plan & bylaw reviews would be paid. Cllr Hay will recommend this to the council, which then has to make a recommendation to the Remuneration Authority, which ultimately determines local body politicians’ remuneration.

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Attribution: Council agenda, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Hucker gets his 14-committee structure in place

Bruce Hucker got his “more just, sustainable & participatory” governance structure into place at the Auckland City Council tonight, with maybe some tweaking to come.

The one casualty was the review of noisy sports on council property, deleted from the new arts, culture & recreation committee’s list of objectives after it was taken to be an attempt to get the speedway out of Western Springs.

Cllr Hucker said, when he released his committee structure proposal on Monday, that wasn’t the aim. When it came time to vote, he pulled the noisy sports line out of the document without explanation.

There might have been more casualties, but the 6-member Citizens & Ratepayers Now minority was clearly going to make no headway with its suggested amendments.

Cllr Hucker, the deputy mayor, put himself down to chair the urban strategy & governance committee – the strategic overview powerhouse – with recently retired Auckland University of Technology vice-chancellor John Hinchcliff as his deputy.

Cllr Scott Milne, an enthusiast for tourism & events promotion and entering his 2nd council term as CitRats leader, put a smile on everything he said at the meeting, but he couldn’t charm to victory his suggestion that the mayor, Dick Hubbard, ought to chair this committee – or face having his power usurped – and that Cllr Hucker ought to be the deputy.

Cllr Hucker said the new council majority didn’t want to get into a tit-for-tat response to the previous CitRat majority’s complete wiping of City Vision & Labour councillors from positions of responsibility during the last council term.

To show his magnanimity, he said the CitRats had scored the chair of one major & one minor committees.

The major one seems to be the public safety & community order committee, to be chaired by Cllr Graeme Mulholland. Set up as the law & order committee by the previous council, it had a keen supporter in defeated mayor John Banks and an irrepressible supporter of closer relations between council & police in chairman Noelene Raffills.

Cllr Milne is the other CitRat chairman, scoring the art gallery committee. Cllr Milne has actually done quite well in the doling out of jobs on sub-committees and external organisations – membership of the arena & festival working parties, the Viaduct Harbour water space management committee, the waterfront liaison group (formed jointly with the Auckland Regional Council).

But in general he plays 2nd string to City Vision councillor Vern Walsh, who will chair finance & corporate business, is deputy chairman of arts, culture & recreation, will chair the arena working party and will be the council representative on Tourism Auckland, a job Cllr Milne claimed the industry wanted him to keep.

New councillors have fared well – they’ll chair 4 of the 8 policy committees and 2 of the 6 operational committees.

Most notable of these is that Action Hobson candidate Richard Simpson, elected on opposition to the eastern corridor’s motorway, will chair the transport & urban linkages committee.

The other Action Hobson councillor, Christine Caughey, will chair the environment, heritage & urban form committee.

Former Labour MP & long-serving councillor Richard Northey, just pipped for the deputy mayoralty, will chair the economic development & sustainable business committee, with Cllr Simpson as his deputy.

Glenda Fryer (City Vision) will chair the planning & regulatory committee, with Cllr Caughey as her deputy and 8 other councillors around the table. One who missed out is new CitRat councillor Linda Leighton, who has been on the Mt Roskill community board for 15 years, has been a hearings commissioner and said she had a passion for it.

Cllr Faye Storer (independent) will chair the planning fixtures committee.

Councillor & community board hearings commissioners will be named at the council’s next meeting, on Thursday 25 November. Any tweaking of committee roles will also be done by then.

Councillors also agreed to review the structure and their performance in 12 months.

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Key points in the Auckland City restructure

I suggested to Auckland City deputy mayor Bruce Hucker today that what he proposed in a restructuring of council committees and a redirection of the council’s objectives was more like a 30-year task than one for 3 years.

He suggested, in response, that maybe it could be a 6-year job – thus giving his team a rollover at the next elections – but in fact the changes could be put in place quickly.

Housing was one example I had in mind: Among the objectives of the community development & equity committee will be to work to ensure low-cost rental housing for elderly people and increase the city’s stock of affordable housing, suggesting a straight turnaround from the council’s sale of pensioner housing under former mayor John Banks & deputy mayor David Hay.

Cllr Hucker said that sale decision was simply a change of ownership which didn’t change the net housing stock in the city. Under the change in council direction, the council might look at joint ventures, and also at relating affordable housing to the location of jobs. This happens in other cities around the world where transport & rental costs have become such big issues that they seriously affect the ability of businesses such as hotels & casinos to attract low-level staff.

The eastern corridor was another prime target for scepticism – Cllr Hucker declared the motorway component of that corridor would be canned, thus raising the prospect of ever-increasing congestion without adequate resolution. Enter measures such as an increase in public transport, bus lanes along eastern suburbs arterials and urban design.

Policy & operation separated

Cllr Hucker said the structure separated day-to-day operations from the policy, planning & partnership function. “This allows us to keep a strategic focus while ensuring the city operates smoothly.”

Outlined below are key policy & implementation features of significance in property & business terms. They’re listed by committee, and have been set down in order of community aspirations, the council goal, council objectives and, in a few cases, areas of responsibility.

Arts, culture & recreation

Community aspirations: Valuing diversity, fostering creativity and enhancing leisure activities
Council goal: Develop a sophisticated international city culture also involving community participation in arts & recreation.


CBD developed as the entertainment/culture centre for New Zealand, including a quarter plan for the Aotea Quarter (under way) with enhanced opportunities for creating a critical mass of culture & entertainment; Auckland city arena; AK05; The Edge.

Under the objective of retaining & expanding open space, a review is proposed of the use by “noisy sports” such as speedway, go-karts & model planes of council parks, with the suggestion they might be better suited to less developed areas of the region.

Community development & equity

Community aspirations: Empowering citizens to become involved in building vibrant, inclusive communities with enhanced community wellbeing
Council goal: Strong, healthy inclusive communities.


Encourage a sense of citizen involvement through strong & inclusive bottom-up community development, including strengthening community groups and convening a refugee & new migrant forum
Work with providers to ensure low-cost rental housing for elderly people and families on low incomes, and decrease homelessness, including increasing the stock of affordable housing by working with the Government, Housing NZ Corp & appropriate community-based groups; and convening a housing forum
Implement projects that address social & economic inequalities in the community
Encourage all Aucklanders to engage in the democratic process, including a greater role for youth councilors, working on how positive change in the community can be achieved.

Economic development & sustainable business

Community aspirations: Economic development & prosperity
Council goal: Promote economic development & prosperity and enhance Auckland as an internationally competitive city.


Foster business growth, economic development & employment opportunities by supporting key sectors of creative industries, hi-tech & knowledge-intensive industries, tourism, specialised manufacturing (for example, marine), food & beverage industries, and business & financial services
Encourage business attraction, retention & expansion through business-friendly council services, business support services & programmes and networks
Encourage sustainable business practices
Encourage the creation of business development areas & business development communities in industrial & commercial areas (more on this a few points down)
Encourage & facilitate inward investment to support & grow strategic sectors & areas, provide high-quality jobs, build on & support existing businesses & supply chains and build Auckland’s export capacity
Provide support & economic advice for major events
Provide quality economic advice to the council, businesses & other stakeholders
Support the ARED strategy (regional economic development)
Manage the Mainstreet programmes, and a few other objectives.

On creating business development areas & communities, 6 areas were named:

The cbd (complete the retail strategy, business promotion strategy, consider developing a smaller business core that promotes an image of the cbd as suitable location for attracting corporate offices & knowledge-intensive businesses)
Newmarket (retain Newmarket as a regional centre)
Tamaki (develop a business precinct as a new centre for research, new technologies & tertiary education)
Rosebank Rd (promote & market as a specialised business development area), and
Penrose & Sylvia Park.

Environment, heritage & urban form

Community aspirations: Unique & sustainable built, natural & cultural environment
Council goal: To create a sustainable & vibrant urban form which retains natural & cultural heritage, where people want to live, work & invest


Review & further develop district plan policy
Review urban, landscape, heritage & transit linkages for policy development including the central area, traditional suburbs & their shopping centres, liveable communities, the residential 8 zone, and all other relevant areas & precincts
Work towards public ownership of access to all coastlines, including an acquisition programme for land purchase for Manukau, Waitemata & Tamaki River coasts
Retain volcanic cones as character open space and preserve key view shafts to & from them
Implement urban design & heritage principles, including making the Urban Design Panel more effective and using quality urban design principles on all council construction projects
Work with the regional council to improve air quality, and
Develop & review environmental policy.

This committee will have responsibility for:

district plan policy
various urban design matters
heritage protection, protection policies & mechanisms and a heritage fund
special character zoning & character overlays (introduced by the last council)
precinct & quarter planning
coastal management strategies, and a few other matters.


Among the Partnerships committee’s areas of responsibility will be the Committee for Auckland and education providers, including Study Auckland.. Iwi relationships will be dealt with by the full council.

Public safety & community order

This committee’s roles, wider than the previous law & order committee’s, take in management of the impacts of liquor, prostitution & gambling on the city’s social well-being, and also the promotion of quality design of buildings & projects to achieve crime prevention & public safety.

Transport & urban linkages

Community aspirations: Planned, integrated & quality transport system
Council goal: To provide for the sustainable & efficient movement of people, goods & services in a modern, planned & integrated system in a manner that provides for Auckland’s growth needs.



Build strong working relationships with key transport governance, planning & funding agencies
Remove the highway component from the eastern transport corridor from Glen Innes to the city and explore alternative solutions, but develop the corridor’s passenger transport components and investigate local roading improvements for the business, university & residential developments in Tamaki that better connect the area to State Highway 1 and to railway stations
Develop (with key transport agencies) an integrated modern rapid transit system, including promoting development of the 3rd rail line from Manukau to the cbd, the Avondale-Southdown rail link & the Albert St tunnel, and extending & improving bus transport
On roads, give priority to completing “sustainable, essential & strategic roading links” – completing Spaghetti Junction, the State Highway 20 bypass, a better design for the Harbour Bridge to City motorway section, developing corridor management plans & traffic flow techniques, and developing & implementing parking policy that supports decongestion of the city
Giving priority to traffic demand management techniques, including a strategy for trucks
Giving priority to regional transport projects such as rapid transit & local solutions to facilitate integration in growth areas such as Panmure, Glen Innes & Avondale

Urban strategy & governance

Community aspirations: Sustainable & managed urban growth & change, and its links with transport & economic & community development
Council goal: Managing change from a suburban to a quality urban way of life, integrated & intelligent planning that ensures good urban design, a sense of place, physical safety, environmental sensitivity and land use that reduces traffic congestion & limits urban sprawl.


Ensure strategic overview & integration across the council’s major policy directions
Advance Auckland as an exciting, vibrant international Pacific Rim city of the 21st century
Promote a sustainable city that integrates & fosters the core community wellbeings
Recognise, celebrate & harness diversity
Foster the broad multicultural nature of the city and improve race relations
Set the high-level direction for the growth of the city, integrating land use, community development, economic development & transport
Plan for the city’s form and improve the quality of its built environment, through urban design excellence
Promote the central area as the vibrant heart of the city & region
Complete a strategy for the downtown waterfront which opens it up to the public, provides a vibrant innovative high-quality mixed-use area and ensures guardianship of this unique place for future generations, and some other objectives.

Its responsibilities will include strategic policy, the Regional Growth Forum & strategies, liveable community strategies, downtown waterfront & central area strategies.

Planning & regulatory


Develop the district plan & bylaws to reflect community aspirations
Develop innovative solutions for resource management & planning issues
Administer the planning rules
Ensure broad public participation in the planning process.

Related story: Hucker reveals the new outlook

Council website: Auckland City Council

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Hucker reveals the new outlook

Do long-titled committees make for better or worse government, or doesn’t it matter?

Some of the titles at Auckland City Council in the last local body term were getting a little expansive – finance & corporate business and strategy & governance were 2.

Under the City Vision/Labour vision for sustainable development, considering the 4 well-beings, separating policy from day-to-day business, introducing some preferred emphases wanting to get the job descriptions more complete, the council structure has been refashioned into 8 policy committees, 6 operational committees, and most of them have long titles. 2 terms ago the council had 17 committees, last time it got down to 11.

The chairmen, deputies & members of each of the new committees will be named at a council meeting on Thursday night.

Deputy mayor Bruce Hucker explained the new structure to media today, though most media interest was in whether Western Springs would remain a speedway venue.

I figure a long title gives you the opportunity to get bogged down in hunting for the meaning of life; a short description means you’re more likely to get on with doing things.

But Cllr Hucker’s elevation to a power role as deputy mayor – contrasting with a weak role as deputy on a split council 2 terms ago followed by a term in opposition – is very much about changing the council direction.

From a review of “noisy sports” to a broad outlook

Apart from some specifics such as a review of “noisy sports” on council properties and canning the eastern motorway, what Cllr Hucker released was a broad outlook, the detail & specific tasks to be focused on once committees are selected.

Specifics on finance were left until later – the council’s annual plan direction-setting process will start with an all-day meeting on Thursday 18 November. Cllr Hucker intimated the new council would stick with the 10-year policy on reducing the rates differential, but changes can be expected to the uniform annual charge policy, which by its very nature hits poorer people harder.

There is a heavy emphasis on urban design underlying various parts of the structure – Cllr Hucker is a senior lecturer in planning at Auckland University.

The 4 well-beings are specifically mentioned in the 2002 Local Government Act as requiring attention – economic, environmental, social & cultural.

So, for them, there are 4 policy committees:

Arts, culture & recreation
Community development & equity
Economic development & sustainable business, and
Environmental, heritage & urban form.

Another 2 policy committees are to take an overarching, balancing view of the issues facing the city and to tackle vital transport & urban linkages:

Transport & urban linkages, and
Urban strategy & governance.

2 more policy committees will meet every 2nd month, one making up for the rejection by the last council of some longstanding links such as those with the Pacific Island community and the other widening the “law & order” focus of a committee run by Cllr Noelene Raffills on the last council:

Partnerships, and
Public safety & community order.

The 6 operational committees are:

Art gallery
Finance & corporate business
Planning & regulatory
Planning fixtures
Works & services, and

There are also numerous subcommittees, working parties & external organisations on which the city council is represented.

Cllr Hucker said the cost in councillor payments wouldn’t rise because there were more committees – councillors are bulk-funded. But there is always potential for changes in cost according to the backup required (direct staff, ease in reporting channels, for example).

4 of the policy committees & 2 of the operational committees are likely to impact on what you want to build in the city. I’ll detail them in a separate story.

“If endorsed, this structure will signal the beginning of a new, more inclusive city, fit for our exciting future ahead,” Cllr Hucker said.

Related story: Key points in the Auckland City restructure

Council website: Auckland City Council

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