Steer For The Next Mayor

10 March 2022. In just seven months’ time, the postal voting papers will be delivered for Aucklanders to decide who will be their next Mayor.

Political jockeying has already begun, however, any clear favourite has not yet crystalised.

With approximately 80 percent of Aucklanders not convinced Auckland Council is performing as it should be, the next Mayor faces a huge task in winning over the trust and confidence of the general public.

The next leader can waste no time and will need to act with decisiveness to build credibility around Auckland Council’s decision-making priorities.

To positively re-position Auckland Council, here are my five suggested top priorities the next Mayor of Auckland needs to focus on. These are;

1. stopping the wastage and overspending,

2. getting Council back to core business,

3. spending of local rates locally,

4. reducing the regulations and red tape,

5. fixing the traffic congestion.

We have all witnessed examples of low quality, non-priority spending by the Council and Auckland Transport. The next Mayor needs to get Council back to delivering core business. If Auckland is really about equality across the Super City, then let’s have our roads, footpaths, road sealing, walkways and public transport comparable with the rest of Auckland.

At a time when its budgets are stretched due to Covid the Council must get back to the “need to haves” rather than the “nice to have” things like pink cycle-ways, white-water rafting parks or giant hanging mirrors in the CBD. In particular, we need to catch up on the underinvestment in our area, poor road maintenance and the building of the required infrastructure needed ahead of the impending local housing boom.

The next Mayor would be wise to reposition the Council as a servant to the public, rather than a faceless mega-corporation.  People are frustrated with decisions being made centrally by a disconnected “one-size- fits- all” mentality. Having a clerk-of-works to check the quality of work before contractors get paid would please many voters.

Having rates spent locally could include the greater empowerment of local board’s with significantly increased spending budgets. The 21 local boards across Auckland cover every Aucklander, yet they get less than 10% of the council’s operational funding and even less for delivering capital works. Auckland Council needs to devolve local decision making back into local communities.

Unnecessary Council regulations and red tape also needs to be removed. The time delays and cost to do business with Council is out of control. License costs, user charges, compliance costs and consent costs have all skyrocketed.

Removing red tape and allowing local contractors, community volunteers and other community groups to deliver community projects, events and services is essential from any new Mayor to create a more inclusive and connected Auckland.

If the trust and confidence in Auckland Council is to dramatically improve, the next Mayor will need to lead strongly by establishing priorities which are significantly different. Mayoral candidates will also need to acknowledge the large infrastructure funding requirements urgently needed for Rodney’s growing townships, as well as reinstating roading maintenance budgets and road sealing programs for the rural communities.