Usually we are all a bit pleased if our predictions are proved in time to be right. But in this instance I would have been happier to be wrong! Last December I blogged about the train wreck that was already in progress within Auckland City’s staffing, as good skilled people the Council could ill-afford to lose were either being made redundant or simply getting fed up with the restructuring shambles and leaving in droves.
Today we learn that the new Council is being obliged to pay close to $2 million per month in consultant’s fees just to keep abreast (at best) of its core functions around planning and consenting, even at a time when demand is relatively low. I have no doubt that some of the professional advice they are being charged consultancy rates for is being provided by former Council employees!
It was intensely annoying at the end of last year to hear Local Government Minister Hide making self-congratulatory noises about the amalgamation of our former councils into one ‘supercity’, as though the deal was done and dusted and everything working smoothly.
The reality of course is that the elected members and staff of the Council are still grappling with serious and fundamental challenges just to make the new structure work and to deliver services to residents and ratepayers, problems that are an inevitable consequence of a too hasty and badly mis-managed process.
In his haste, Mr Hide and his supporters broke the first rule of any restructuring, which is ‘to take the people with you’. He chose to use the stick rather than the carrot, the Council is now left to pick up the pieces, and the cost of that will land directly on the people who were largely ignored in the process.