Group works on super-city idea
Vigorous debate between the region’s leaders lies ahead this year as a working group of four councils attempts to agree on the logistics of a Wellington super-city.
Representatives from Porirua, Kapiti, Wellington and Greater Wellington Regional councils will aim to hand a preferred amalgamation model to the Local Government Commission before this year’s local body elections in October, working group chairman Ken Douglas says.
The Wairarapa and Hutt councils have been invited to participate but have not yet joined the group, he says.
The group will meet on January 23, when the first item on the agenda will be deciding on a common goal and a timeframe – possibly a lengthy debate, Mr Douglas says.
The group will take Geoffrey Palmer’s 2012 recommendation for a twotier structure as its starting point but will negotiate how much power each level of council would be given, and how services would be delivered.
The working party will consult the public to come up with its model, but how to engage with residents is another thorny issue.
Some residents view surveys as unrepresentative, and phone surveys are problematic for communities such as eastern Porirua where there are few landline phones, Mr Douglas says.
Other problems include whether to give Wellington City Council more weight in a survey due to its larger population, and whether a survey conducted by one council will be accepted by the others.
What everybody agrees on is the need to decide whether change is welcome, Mr Douglas says.
This year’s elections will be held under present local body boundaries, possibly with the understanding that moves to amalgamate will take place next triennium, Mr Douglas says.
In December it was believed the Wairarapa councils would submit a proposal to amalgamate with each other to the Local Government Commission by February, but they have agreed to delay a submission to allow other Wellington councils to catch up, Mr Douglas says.
‘‘ The Wairarapa councils have come back and said they are quite happy to consult with us about the timing of their application, and they’re not trying to use it as a pressure device to cause us problems.’’
It is possible the Local Government Commission will decline to accept whatever proposal the working group submits, whether it comes out for or against amalgamation, Mr Douglas says.
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