Wind it up or scale it down
Councils have no business getting involved in economic development, was a recurring theme from people who wrote responses to the regional strategy.
Questions on the strategy, which costs ratepayers $ 4.6 million a year, were included in the regional council’s draft annual plan consultation documents.
Grow Wellington gets $4 million a year for regional economic development and the rest funds the activities of the Wellington Regional Strategy office.
Of the 980 respondents who referred to the strategy, 587 supported it and 380 opposed it, mostly by ticking a box.
However, some took the trouble to write a response.
Porirua City Council supported Greater Wellington’s continued leadership of regional civil defence, regional strategy and the economic development work of Grow Wellington but Mrs G Drake of Porirua did not.
‘‘Wellington Regional Strategy is very expensive but very difficult to measure the worth of investment – scrap it entirely,’’ she said.
The sentiment was echoed around the region.
Kapiti Coast District Council’s submission supported the regional council continuing with the strategy but Derek Rayner of Waikanae disagreed.
‘‘I don’t support the Wellington Regional Strategy spending $4.6 million annually on a talk shop that appears to have vague objectives and be largely unsuccessful.’’
From Lower Hutt, B Malahoff said it was too expensive.
‘‘Make it voluntary to serve and promote business.’’
Mark Trainer, also from Lower Hutt, called the strategy ‘‘duplicative and unjustified’’.
J P Brount of Johnsonville said nine mayors and a chairperson were too many for a population of 500,000.
‘‘Break up the fiefdoms and parochialism and job protection.
‘‘If it’s good enough for central government and industry to restructure during this recession, it’s a must for local government.’’
Stuart Mudd of Karori said he was unsure whether the strategy was useful. ‘‘You still haven’t told us what they do.’’
Bill Viggers of Kelburn said: ‘‘Fix the pipes, kill the possums and get trains and buses running to time, not waste vast amounts of money refreshing the strategy.’’
The Upper Hutt Rural Residents’ Association pointed out that rural properties paid more than residential properties in economic development agency rates. ‘‘We do not see the value in this and therefore ask that this be reduced to the same as residential properties – $ 14 per rating unit.’’
Mr and Mrs Lynch of Heretaunga said:
‘‘Just end this initiative. The $ 4.6 million could be better spent elsewhere.’’
Nigel Clarke of Upper Hutt said: ‘‘ The projects to date have not produced any tangible or significant economic benefit to the region.’’
But Masterton District Council supported the status quo, ‘‘particularly the recent re-focus from export to job growth’’.
Anders Crofoot from Castle Point Station also supported the status quo, as did Fonterra and Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce.
The Regional Strategy Committee considered submissions on the regional strategy on May 17 and recommended the regional strategy funding be approved with no changes.