Mayor will fight for bill change

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE -

Cen­tral Otago mayor Tony Lep­per is pre­pared to get on the ‘‘band­wagon’’ to stand up for lo­cal democ­racy if re­forms to lo­cal gov­ern­ment laws ‘‘go the wrong way’’.

The Bet­ter Lo­cal Ser­vices Bill was in­tro­duced to par­lia­ment on June 9, had its first read­ing on June 15 and has now been re­ferred to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and En­vi­ron­ment Se­lect Com­mit­tee for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Un­der the bill, the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion could force coun­cils to amal­ga­mate their ser­vices. Wa­ter sup­ply, waste wa­ter and trans­port could be taken from coun­cil con­trol and put into coun­cil-con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tions (CCOs).

Lep­per said ’’sig­nif­i­cant changes’’ were needed to the draft bill.

‘‘The min­is­ter has promised to con­sult fur­ther with Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment New Zealand on the con­tentious is­sues - the key one be­ing that the lo­cal gov­ern­ment com­mis­sion can set up a CCO with­out con­sul­ta­tion. If changes are made to some of these things then it will have gone the right way.’’

Last week, In­ver­cargill mayor Tim Shad­bolt called on South­land coun­cils and mem­bers of par­lia­ment to unite and stand up for lo­cal democ­racy by op­pos­ing the bill, and Lep­per said he was ’’well and truly pre­pared to join the band­wagon’’.

‘‘You have to make some noise if you think it is go­ing the wrong way. I think we are los­ing lo­cal democ­racy...We are hold­ing them to their word and we will wait and see what hap­pens. But be pre­pared - I don’t think it is worth los­ing our democ­racy by amal­ga­mat­ing.’’

How­ever, he did not think the bill was aimed at coun­cils like Cen­tral Otago.

‘‘To be honest, I see no way of putting our wa­ter and, say, Queen­stown’s into a CCO. They are too dif­fer­ent and too far apart. We have sub­mit­ted. I lack faith in that process and think other ac­tions are more ef­fec­tive.’’

Last month, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Pe­seta Sam Lotu-Iiga called for greater col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween lo­cal coun­cils to meet fu­ture com­mu­nity needs.

JOHN HAWKINS

Daniel Dance, of Roxburgh, Jesse Dance, 15, of Roxburgh and Sarah Wright, 15, of Alexan­dra.

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