'A dog's breakfast' – State of local government slammed amid calls for another royal commission

One expert has labelled the state of local government "a dog's breakfast" and there are calls for another royal commission after a spate of issues at councils across the country.

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There’s calls for a royal commission after division in Tauranga, Invercargill and Wellington city councils. Source: 1 NEWS

There's division at the Tauranga, Invercargill, and Wellington city councils.

Yesterday the Wellington City Council confirmed it's investigating Mayor Andy Foster, after a complaint relating to the controversial Shelly Bay vote.

The complaint was made two weeks ago on the day when councillors voted to sell and lease the council-owned Shelly Bay land.

Councillor Jenny Condie claimed Foster had revealed information to her which she believed he was not permitted to do.

Whether Foster has the backing of the council will be determined at the next vote.

Wellington City Council investigating Mayor Andy Foster after Shelly Bay vote complaints

Wellington’s issues come on the heels of the surprise resignation of Tauranga's Mayor Tenby Powell and a report critical of Invercargill City Council and mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt.

“Well it's not flattering for Sir Tim and it's obviously been a very uncomfortable read,” Invercargill city councillor Darren Ludlow said.

It's been more than 30 years since New Zealand's last local government reform and experts believe the system's not fit for purpose.

Wellington City Council investigating Mayor Andy Foster after Shelly Bay vote complaints

“I think it's a complete dog's breakfast to be honest it demonstrates some of the fundamental weaknesses we have in the local government system,” local government expert Andy Asquith said.

One Kapiti councillor is calling for a Royal Commission, like the one that kick-started the formation of Auckland's super city.

“Auckland wasn't dealing with growth, weren't taking advantage of opportunities as they came to them and royal commission there helped get that over the line,’ Kāpiti Coast District Councillor Gwynn Compton said.

Tim Shadbolt defiant in face of damning report into his leadership of Invercargill City Council

Local Government New Zealand says it's working with Minister Nanaia Mahuta to improve the performance of councillors.

“We're being asked to do more and more with the same funding streams and that's added pressure to councils and that's why you’re starting to see in my view some of the behaviour,” Local Government NZ's Stuart Crosby said.

In the year to June 2019, New Zealand councils owned more than $152 billion in assets and the following year spent $11.7 billion, but only 42 per cent of Kiwis voted in the 2019 local government elections.

“They are the custodians of our assets, there are too many people elected to council who don't know what their role is, don't appreciate their role, they are ill-equipped,” Asquith said.