Mayor’s Council and CCO shake-up must be more than a PR exercise

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Mayor Phil Goff’s proposed review of Auckland Council and its Council-controlled organisations (CCOs) must not be another exercise in restructuring for the sake of it, and it must safeguard the expertise and functionality of long-serving Local Government staff, the PSA says.

“Our members at Auckland Council and its CCOs are at the heart of the community, and the lack of engagement with the PSA and members over the Mayor’s new plans are troubling,” says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary.

“Many of our members in Council and CCOs have been part of review after review after review, yet very little of what various politicians and past Mayors have promised has come to fruition. CCOs are still operating at a distinct arm’s length from the mayoralty, and the fiscal benefits of restructuring staff roles have frequently been overstated for the sake of a quick media hit.”

The Mayor’s proposed three-year review would be carried out under section 17A of the Local Government Act, and would reportedly cut council operating costs by restructuring CCOs and merging back office staff, among other mechanisms.

“We are not opposed to increasing efficiencies within the Council structure, but yet another review will effect productivity and the quality of service delivery over the years it will take to complete,” Mr Barclay says.

“One member told me that he has worked in Local Government for fifteen years now, and has been part of sixteen different reviews. There is good change and innovation – which we support – and then there is change for the sake of change, which is demoralising and does nothing to help deliver better services for Aucklanders.”

Mr Barclay is calling on the Mayor and the council to engage unreservedly with the PSA and other unions during the review so that job losses are minimal, and the expertise of working people can be a key part of any new service design among CCOs.

“We look forward to being engaged during the process, and we want to caution the Mayor that we will simply not accept restructuring of Council staff functions just for the sake of sounding fiscally prudent,” Mr Barclay says.