Personality disputes are said to be behind a failure by the two centre-right campaigns contesting the Auckland Council elections to merge.

This is despite pressure from National Party MPs and top party officials.

POLITIK has been told a recent high-level meeting involving the presidents of the two groups could not agree on a merger.

But various sources in both the National Party and the Council campaigns say the personality disputes run too deep to allow a merger.

Instead, Auckland Future and Communities and Residents  have agreed simply to work together to gain centre right control of the Council.

A senior National Party source said the two groups were likely to form a coalition.

And another source close to Auckland Future said the two groups were trying to agree on a common platform but negotiations at present were at a “delicate” stage.

Some big names have been re involved on either side of the divide with Desley Simpson (wife of National Party President)  standing for Communities and Residents while two former party presidents; Sue Wood and Michelle Boag and Cabinet Minister Nicky Kaye are backing Auckland Future.

However Ms Simpson’s husband National Party President, Peter Goodfellow, appears to be moving closer to Auckland Future and he attended an Auckland Future fundraising function last Friday.

But this still leaves the centre right in Auckland fragmented.

Advertisment

Mayoral candidate, Victoria Crone, though she has been backed by leading National Party figures like Michelle Boag is running her own campaign and is not formally aligned with either Auckland Future or Communities and Ratepayers.

But there is also a second National Party figure standing for Mayor, Mark Thomas.

It appears party patience with him is running out and POLITIK understands caucus members have been told not to associate themselves with his campaign.

There is speculation within the party that he will stand down possibly persuaded by some informal guarantee that he might get some strong support for a candidacy for Parliament at the next election.

Meanwhile, there are other “independent” candidates standing on a  centre right platform like broadcaster and columnist Bill Ralston in Waitemata.

Mr Ralston is campaigning on a mix of tightening up on wasteful council spending and paying for much-needed infrastructure by  alternative funding such as council bonds, selling some of the assets, and public-private partnerships to alleviate some of the heavy costs involved.

“Yes, of course, we’ll also have to borrow as well but our borrowing is already high and we risk a credit rating downgrade if we borrow too much,” he says.

Those ideas are likely to form the core of any joint platform agreed by Auckland Future and Communities and Residents.

So far Auckland Future has announced 6 candidates in five wards and Communities and Residents one candidate in one ward.

All up there are 13 wards.

Auckland Future is looking to make gains on the North Shore where National holds all the Parliamentary seats but where no organised centre right candidates have stood in the past.