Have your say on regional changes
Iattended a Grey Power meeting in Upper Hutt recently and was astounded to be told by attendees that, in the opinion of the mayors of both Hutt cities, Porirua people were in favour of the proposed super-city amalgamation.
The last time I attended a meeting on the subject, we were told that if change was necessary, a proposal was being worked out, showing our preference for a twotier system in which local decisions were made locally. That is not the perception of Porirua in other places in the region, apparently.
According to the Porirua City Council website, there are certain principles that need to be taken into account when assessing regional governance options for our city:
Our local community/ village identities are protected as part of a local governance structure.
Our local voice is heard through access to decision-making at all levels.
Our elected representation at all levels reflects the diversity of the city.
The region has a stronger voice and Porirua has an enhanced voice in the region.
There is efficient and effective provision of core services.
There is affordable local government.
This is all very laudable and what most of us, I think, would want, but have we actually been asked, or stated, our opinion?
Of course, many people think amalgamation of the whole region will solve all our problems, and others feel it would be the end of Porirua as a separate entity.
Some think our rates, which are admittedly pretty high, will go higher; others feel that amalgamation will result in lower rates.
We are all entitled to our opinion but have we made it known in the right places? There’s no point sharing our judgement over the kitchen table or the staff coffee machine. In politics, there is truth in the saying: the squeaking hinge gets the oil.
The meetings that were held in the various wards of the city were not well attended when you consider our population.
I know they were held in the evenings when people want to watch television or just relax after a day’s work. But if the city we live in and its individual identity are important to us, could we not make an effort?
From the daily papers, we have learned that Porirua City Council is supporting the Wellington Regional Council submission that a two-tier system is desirable.
However, there has been little discussion on the merits of keeping the status quo.
I imagine that is what the Hutt residents would prefer.
Even the online questionnaire for Porirua seemed to dismiss the possibility.
The main question asked, more or less, was that if change is necessary, which of the other two options, one-tier or two-tier, did you prefer?
My point is that we have yet another chance to make our voices heard. When the Local Government Commission has studied all the submissions and stated its preferred option, it is anticipated that there will be a survey held in each area.
It would take only 10 per cent of any of the affected areas to trigger a binding referendum, as occurred in Nelson/Tasman.
So speak up – or take the consequences.