Carter­ton will hold the key

Ef­fi­ciency ver­sus voice

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS FEATURE - By JIM CHIPP

Carter­ton is likely to as­sume an im­por­tant role in the re­gion – though briefly – in the next few months.

When all the coun­cil groups have made their pitches and the Lo­cal Government Com­mis­sion pro­poses new coun­cil ar­range­ments for Welling­ton, Carter­ton shop­pers could find them­selves con­fronted by an on­slaught of peo­ple with clip-boards want­ing their sig­na­ture.

They will be look­ing for about 600 sig­na­tures, or 10 per cent of the district’s vot­ers, to force a ref­er­en­dum.

Since the con­tentious lo­cal government re­form dis­cus­sions be­gan, var­i­ous may­ors and coun­cil­lors have been keen to get their views into print.

Rather than report what the politi­cians had to say, Cen­tral Com­mu­nity News­pa­pers ap­proached one of the coun­cil of­fi­cers charged with analysing the pos­si­ble per­mu­ta­tions of lo­cal government re­arrange­ment, and agreed not to name the of­fi­cer.

Case for change

For:

Since Auck­land was amal­ga­mated its now-uni­fied voice has drowned ev­ery other.

Plan­ning of Welling­ton’s re­gional ac­tiv­i­ties – trans­port, water sup­ply, storm water, har­bours and re­gional eco­nomic devel­op­ment has been in­ef­fec­tive and in­ef­fi­cient be­cause of com­pet­ing parochial in­ter­ests.

Land devel­op­ment plan­ning has been done by city and district coun­cils with no re­gard for the re­gion’s in­ter­est.

‘‘The case for change is be­ing able to make bet­ter- in­te­grated de­ci­sions ear­lier,’’ the of­fi­cer said.

‘‘The Welling­ton Re­gional Strat­egy is a clas­sic ex­am­ple . . . it takes for­ever be­cause of com­pet­ing in­ter­ests.’’

While parochial­ism has slowed the re­gional strat­egy com­mit­tee to a crawl, Welling­ton City Coun­cil has be­gun do­ing its own thing and other coun­cils are start­ing to do the same, the of­fi­cer said.

‘‘One of the prob­lems with the sta­tus quo is man­date.’’

City and district coun­cil­lors must rep­re­sent their own con­stituents, and are there­fore un­able to act in the re­gion’s in­ter­ests. Against

There are 106 city, re­gional and district coun­cil­lors rep­re­sent­ing 430,000 res­i­dents. Any amal­ga­ma­tions are likely to re­sult in less rep­re­sen­ta­tion, fur­ther re­moved from peo­ple.

Pos­si­ble re­forms

Sta­tus quo

The city, district and re­gional coun­cils could re­main.

It is pos­si­ble re­gional strate­gic plan­ning could be re­or­gan­ised to re­duce parochial com­pe­ti­tion, and the re­gional coun­cil could take over land devel­op­ment plan­ning, but it would not give a uni­fied re­gional voice.

Sin­gle uni­tary coun­cil

The re­gion or most of the re­gion could be gov­erned by a sin­gle coun­cil tak­ing in the roles of city, district and the re­gional coun­cil. This would ad­dress all the re­gional strate­gic plan­ning is­sues and give the re­gion a sin­gle voice, at the ex­pense of less rep­re­sen­ta­tion. If the

coun­cil were larger than 400,000 peo­ple it would have the op­tion of be­ing two-tier, with lo­cal de­ci­sions such as street im­prove­ments and lo­cal parks work, taken by lo­cal boards.

Kapiti and Wairarapa might feel they were be­ing gov­erned from Welling­ton.

How­ever, our ad­vi­sor said, although Welling­ton would dom­i­nate as the big­gest con­stituency, it had only 40 per cent of res­i­dents, so it would not have a coun­cil ma­jor­ity.

Smaller uni­tary coun­cils

The re­gion could frag­ment into two, three or four uni­tary coun­cils. The two-tier op­tion, with lo­cal boards, would be avail­able only to a coun­cil made up of Welling­ton, Lower Hutt and any

two other

cur­rent coun­cils. It is an op­tion that would prob­a­bly be worse than the sta­tus quo in ev­ery re­spect – more frag­mented and parochial strate­gic plan­ning, more voices and less rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Greater Welling­ton spends about $11 mil­lion each year more in Wairarapa than it col­lects and the money mainly comes out of Welling­ton. That would ei­ther have to be funded by Wairarapa rate in­creases or ser­vices would have to be cut.

Get­ting its voice heard could be one of Wairarapa’s big­gest chal­lenges, the of­fi­cer said.

‘‘ Gis­borne is about an equiv­a­lent uni­tary author­ity and they are a lit­tle bit in­vis­i­ble.

‘‘Welling­ton is quite out there. For Wairarapa on its own you would have to think they would be po­ten­tially quite iso­lated.’’

If Lower and Up­per Hutts were to com­bine into a sin­gle uni­tary author­ity it would make mat­ters worse, she said.

‘‘You are not just cre­at­ing a uni­tary in the Hutt, you’ve got to deal with the rest of the re­gion. What you are do­ing is set­ting up two or three or four meaty coun­cils – ef­fec­tively the Auck­land sit­u­a­tion prior to amal­ga­ma­tion. It would be a lot more than the sta­tus quo. It would be a real mess.’’

The smaller uni­tary au­thor­i­ties would not be able to han­dle trans­port net­works, har­bour man­age­ment and catch­ment man­age­ment be­cause those things just do not stop at coun­cil bound­aries, she said.

‘‘ Coun­cil- con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tions would be in­evitable to run re­gional things and those or­gan­i­sa­tions would have to be del­e­gated to make de­ci­sions.’’

Ter­ri­to­rial author­ity amal­ga­ma­tions

The re­gional coun­cil could stay, with var­i­ous city and district coun­cils amal­ga­mated into larger ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties.

‘‘That does get some ef­fi­cien­cies but it doesn’t ad­dress the key strate­gic is­sues,’’ the of­fi­cer said.

The re­gion would not have a sin­gle voice or a sin­gle strate­gic plan and it would not cut out the com­pe­ti­tion be­tween coun­cils.

‘‘The other op­tion un­der the act is for some of those re­gion-scale is­sues to be trans­ferred to the re­gional coun­cil,’’ she said.

‘‘That would achieve some ben­e­fits, but it would be so po­lit­i­cally un­palat­able that it would never hap­pen vol­un­tar­ily.’’

Power play: The push for su­per city re­form bears its fair share of bu­reau­cratic headaches.

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