Su­per-city panel fronts up

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Sir Ge­of­frey Palmer is to head an in­de­pen­dent panel to rec­om­mend a pos­si­ble re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of lo­cal and re­gional coun­cils in the Welling­ton re­gion.

The rest of the panel will be war and treaty his­to­rian, and com­pany di­rec­tor Sir Wira Gard­ner, for­mer Mary Pot­ter Hospice gen­eral man­ager and gov­er­nance con­sul­tant Sue Driver and businessman and for­mer Tran­sit chair­man Bryan Jack­son.

Porirua and the re­gional coun­cil both ap­proved the panel and its terms of ref­er­ence at their meet­ings last Wed­nes­day.

It will con­sult widely, as­sess al­ter­na­tives for fu­ture lo­cal gov­ern­ment in Welling­ton, iden­tify a pre­ferred coun­cil struc­ture and out­line tran­si­tion ar­range­ments.

It will re­port back by the end of Oc­to­ber and has a bud­get of $241,000 of which Porirua will con­trib­ute $ 15,000 and one staff mem­ber.

Ev­ery other lo­cal coun­cil in the re­gion has opted out of the panel process and will fol­low Welling­ton’s lead, car­ry­ing out their own con­sul­ta­tion, and mak­ing in­di­vid­ual sub­mis­sions to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion.

Porirua City Coun­cil ex­cluded the public from its meet­ing.

How­ever, af­ter the meet­ing, at the an­nounce­ment of the panel mem­ber­ship, Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett said the two con­sul­ta­tion pro­cesses were not nec­es­sar­ily mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive and that Porirua would be in­volved in the Welling­ton sur­vey as well.

The Welling­ton sur­vey of­fers cit­i­zens a choice of four pos­si­ble forms that fu­ture lo­cal gov­ern­ment might take: the sta­tus quo; merg­ing all coun­cils into three new ones – Welling­ton- Porirua- Kapiti, Hutt Val­ley and Wairarapa; merg­ing all coun­cils into two – Welling­ton and Wairarapa; and fi­nally a sin­gle, Auck­land-style ‘su­per-city’ coun­cil.

‘‘This [the in­de­pen­dent panel] process is ask­ing peo­ple to put func­tions be­fore forms,’’ Mr Leggett said. ‘‘What does the re­gion need from lo­cal gov­ern­ment?’’

At the re­gional coun­cil meet­ing four coun­cil­lors op­posed the panel.

Welling­ton coun­cil­lor Daran Pon­ter said the process was im­por­tant but had been rushed.

Paul Bruce and Garry Mcphee also op­posed it.

Up­per Hutt mem­ber Paul Swain said it was an ex­pen­sive lux­ury and would du­pli­cate work be­ing car­ried out by city and dis­trict coun­cils, which were bet­ter placed to con­sult the public.

‘‘Their ap­proach makes this par­tic­u­lar re­view re­dun­dant,’’ he said.

‘‘This will be a he­li­copter view across the re­gion.’’

How­ever, coun­cil chair­woman Fran Wilde dis­agreed.

‘‘I am at a loss to see how this could be con­sid­ered a ‘he­li­copter view’, and that it’s some­thing that ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties could do bet­ter, run by coun­cil­lors whose jobs might be at stake or might not be at stake.’’

For­mer Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash said she was ‘‘quite ap­palled’’ at some of the coun­cil­lors’ com­ments that the re­view process had been rushed. She said it had been in train for two years, since when she had been mayor of Porirua.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

Su­per panel: Porirua mayor Nick Leggett, left, with gov­er­nance re­view panel mem­bers Sue Driver and Bryan Jack­son (partly ob­scured).

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