The axing of community boards is being considered by district councils from Wānaka to Waipā.
And in both centres the boards are aggrieved. That’s not surprising – they have proved valuable mouthpieces for communities.
What is equally concerning is how the proposal in Waipā was exposed – via a Te Awamutu Community Board agenda.
This is not a specific criticism of Waipā – it is a reflection of a process which has been allowed to develop nationally over the last 30 years.
When the existing local body system was introduced in 1989 there were no secret workshops, councillors debated issues in public. It was healthy – and it was reported.
The News understands a staff report recommending the axing of the boards was discussed in secret by councillors just this week – and there was limited support for the proposal.
That is not democracy at play. The public are entitled to know what councillors are discussing and what their views are. Councillors should not be muzzled, and this is a case Local Government New Zealand should be arguing.
Further, Waipā should not have learned second hand that their council is reviewing the future of community boards ahead of an election next year.
Read: Boards for the Chop?