The Local Government Commission announced:
The most significant reforms of a generation are proposed for councils in the Wellington region, under a draft proposal released by the Local Government Commission. Public submissions are now being sought, with a deadline of 2 March 2015.
A new unitary authority, the Greater Wellington Council, is proposed. It would take over the functions of the existing nine councils: Masterton District Council; Carterton District Council; South Wairarapa District Council; Upper Hutt City Council; Hutt City Council; Wellington City Council; Porirua City Council; Kapiti Coast District Council, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.
The new council would have a shared decision-making structure. Power would be shared between the governing body (a mayor and 21 councillors) and 60 members of local boards. The mayor would be elected by voters of greater Wellington. Councillors and local board members would be elected from eight defined geographic areas.
The current nine Councils have nine mayors (incl WRC), 95 Councillors and 57 community board members.
The proposed structure would see eight local boards:
- Wairarapa (10 members)
- Upper Hutt (6)
- Lower Hutt (10)
- Kapiti Coast (9)
- Porirua-Tawa (7)
- Ohariu (6)
- Lampton (6)
- Rongotai (6)
The local boards would be more powerful than the ones in Auckland:
The Commission expects Wellington local boards to have greater power than Auckland local boards. This includes approving management plans for most local recreation, cultural, and sporting facilities,and a significant role in community development and promotion. For example, it includes local parks and reserves, recreational and community facilities, arts and cultural facilities and libraries. It also includes local community and cultural events, decisions about public spaces such as town centres and main streets, and grants to local groups. The Commission also expects local boards to have responsibility for local transport infrastructure, waste and recycling facilities, and local economic development initiatives
I think the proposed structure is a significant improvement over the status quo. However it will be bitterly opposed by some incumbent politicians and Mayors as they of course would lose their positions. If the proposal goes forward, it is likely there will be a referendum, and I don’t think there is a great desire for change – so it could well be lost. That is a pity though.
The Local Government Commission have no vested interest except what they think will best serve the residents of the region. They’ve look at all the pros and cons, and have recommended this model. My hope is the debate will be on those pros and cons.
Wellington does suffer from a lack of leadership. You have to get agreement from all nine Councils for things to happen.
The Dom Post editorial is in favour:
On balance, it’s a good call for Wellington to get the super-city treatment, as proposed by the Local Government Commission.
The inclusion of Wairarapa’s three councils, however, remains unconvincing, and should be reversed. …
But no-one should pretend that the boards will be some kind of boon for grass-roots democracy.
On the contrary, this is a move to concentrate decision-making powers for the region. The crucial funding and regulatory decisions will happen centrally. That’s the point of the exercise, and it’s why it is worthwhile.
The best reason for a merger is that it will give the city a louder, more consistent national voice. Wellington is treading water while Christchurch and Auckland, for different reasons, dominate central government attention.
The region needs leadership that can lobby powerfully for it. It also needs a coherent vision for how it will remain energetic and attractive in the coming decades. That is a task better suited to one mayor and 21 councillors instead of the current tangle of local, often headbutting chiefs.
I’m quite relaxed on whether or not the Wairarapa councils are included. Many of the home owners there work or live in Wellington so there are strong connections, but if they want their own Council, I’m fine with the Wellingtion Region just including Wellington, Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti.
, Local Body Politics