Rodney Fair Deal? – New Mayor

3 November 2022. By Cr Greg Sayers. First and foremost, thank you for all your support during the recent elections. Auckland mayor Wayne Brown is urging me to get busy and to deliver upon my election promises.

Getting Council focussed on delivering core services together with stopping unnecessary wastage and over spending is still firmly in my sights.

The Mayor is intending to appoint me to a leadership role, creating a “razor squad” with authority to scrutinise the spending of every Council department, with the goal of cutting costs, improving productivity and improving customer services. Savings would be directed back into Council’s front line staff, improving roading and minimising rate increases.

In the past senior Council staff have identified cutting front line services such as libraries, community centres, or selling parks, before looking at Council’s own internal processes. This is no longer the acceptable response.

In addition, Council needs to publically define what is “core business”? At the time of amalgamation Auckland Council never went through the exercise of defining what this was. Accordingly, the efficiency and cost savings Aucklanders were promised never materialised. Trustfully, a new day has dawned under the leadership of Mayor Brown.

Significant push back for change from some of the Councillors, Local Board members and staff is to be anticipated. However, the majority of Aucklanders have voted for change by electing Brown as Mayor. We can now expect that change to occur – expectantly for the better.

Integral to achieving any success will be reversing the centralisation of decision-making away from city based bureaucrats and back to locally based personnel. This is particularly necessary for rural areas like Rodney in the north and Franklin in the south. Urban-focussed planning, consenting, compliance and contracting rules simply do not work in the rural environment. Exactly where and how this will be achieved by the organisation is to be worked through. One size does not fit all and Mayor Brown seems to understand this.

The public want Council staff to be more accessible, more identifiable and more accountable when helping them to resolve issues. Auckland Council’s Chief Executive, Mr Jim Stabback, will need to be accountable for implementing the organisational culture changes required to fully support the Mayor’s vision.

Success will also require the Local Board’s to be given wider powers, more resources and budget to deliver more at the local level.

All this does depend, however, on the Mayor having the political support of the majority of councillors to vote in these directives. This will be his first big political test.

The Royal Commission’s recommendation to have an ‘Independent Services and Performance Auditor’ acting as a watchdog over both the bureaucrats and politicians between election is still valid. Mayor Brown is currently neutral on this, seeing it is the role of Councillors to govern over the finances.   

Overall, there is a strong sense of hope that Rodney will be treated far more fairly this term.