5 Dec 2020

Tauranga councillor: Government intervention 'political move'

12:46 pm on 5 December 2020

Tauranga city politicians are calling the decision by the Local Government Minister to appoint a commission to run the council a disappointing 'political move', and a loss of democracy.

The view from Mount Maunganui, Tauranga.

The view from Mount Maunganui, Tauranga. Photo: 123rf

Nanaia Mahuta wrote to the elected representatives yesterday to advise them she intends to replace them with commissioners.

The appointment of the commissioner means the elected officials lose their jobs.

Last month Tauranga's mayor Tenby Powell resigned abruptly last month, while calling for commissioners to be appointed, and Mahuta said she had grown increasingly concerned.

But Mount Maunganui and Papamoa ward councillor Steve Morris said other councils where commissioners have been imposed had operational and governance issues.

He conceded the Tauranga body has had significant governance problems, but doesn't think the Department of Internal Affairs would have recommended a commissioner.

"The Tauranga City Council hasn't had an organisational failure.

"It has had significant governance issues, but frankly with the resignation of the mayor, a lot of those issues left the building with him."

Morris was surprised by Mahuta's decision, and questioned her motives.

He said when ratepayers pay their rates bills next year, they will have nobody to go to to express their opinions.

"The only thing that was standing in the way of opening up the ratepayers cheque book, for the developers, was the councillors.

"So with them gone, unfortunately it means that our community now have nobody to hold accountable."

Former Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless said the appointment of a commissioner to run the city is a loss of democracy.

"I do sort of hope that in a year or so, when faced with some big expense - big increases in things like rates that I'm sure they'll impose, that people are still keen to have commissioners then - I'm not so sure."

He said it is a major step to remove them.

The Tauranga City council has 10 days to reply to the minister's letter.

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