Su­per-city – eyes shut at 20 paces

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By JIM CHIPP

The most strik­ing fea­ture of the so-called su­per-city de­bate has been the in­tran­si­gence it has brought out.

Bat­tle lines have been drawn, al­liances struck and trenches dug, but it is un­likely to be the war to end wars.

Hutt mayor Ray Wal­lace has con­fi­dently pre­dicted that the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion’s pro­posal to abol­ish the re­gion’s eight ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties and re­gional coun­cil to form a sin­gle su­per coun­cil will be struck down by a ref­er­en­dum.

If it is, he should not ex­pect life to go on as be­fore with ev­ery­one liv­ing hap­pily ever after.

Of the two pro­pos­als and 15 sub­mis­sions to the com­mis­sion, only Hutt City’s and Up­per Hutt’s wanted the sta­tus quo.

The rest agreed some­thing needed to change.

It is not likely to be long be­fore a new pro­posal goes to the com­mis­sion and the process be­gins again.

The pe­riod for sub­mis­sions on the draft pro­posal could be an op­por­tu­nity to sort out dif­fer­ences and come up with a com­pro­mise so­lu­tion ac­cept­able to most ref­er­en­dum vot­ers.

The al­ter­na­tive is a lon­grun­ning war of at­tri­tion end­ing in a res­o­lu­tion that might not work for many, and may not last long.

The com­mis­sion has done a lot of good work to es­tab­lish the facts about the re­gion, polling res­i­dents’ pref­er­ences and analysing the costs and ben­e­fits of al­ter­na­tives.

Peo­ple may not like its con­clu­sions, but the ground­work has been done for any­one who wants to pre­pare the next grand plan for Wellington, and new pro­pos­als will not take long.

Welling­to­ni­ans might end up with a lo­cal gov­ern­ment scheme by elim­i­na­tion rather than in­tel­li­gent de­sign.

The prob­lems have been spelled out clearly.

The re­gion has too many voices to the Gov­ern­ment, and they are drowned out by 1.5 mil­lion Auck­lan­ders and 500,000 Christchurch res­i­dents.

Although the com­mis­sion ac­knowl­edged Wellington did not have the de­gree of dys­func­tion ev­i­dent in pre- amal­ga­ma­tion Auck­land, it is still there.

Wa­ter sup­ply, sew­er­age and stormwa­ter have been co­or­di­nated un­der a coun­cil­con­trolled or­gan­i­sa­tion. Trans­port is con­sid­ered col­lec­tively by a joint coun­cil com­mit­tee, but spa­tial plan­ning re­mains a fly in the oint­ment, as Porirua mayor Nick Leggett has stressed.

Most coun­cils have spurned any ef­fort to plan com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment col­lec­tively along­side trans­port and the three­wa­ters in­fra­struc­ture, want­ing in­stead to pro­mote pop­u­la­tion growth in their own patches.

De­vel­op­ment pro­mo­tion has been some­what co- or­di­nated un­der Wellington Re­gional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Agency, but the agency has not been en­trusted with any­thing like the whole bud­get.

Some coun­cils have ac­knowl­edged global cli­mate change will have sig­nif­i­cant lo­cal con­se­quences, but oth­ers are in stead­fast de­nial.

As one re­gional coun­cil­lor pointed out re­cently, man­aged re­treat will be the only prac­ti­ca­ble re­sponse to ris­ing sea­wa­ter lev­els in some places – some homes and some busi­nesses will have to be sac­ri­ficed.

De­cid­ing which spa­ces should be de­fended or aban­doned is too big for a ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­ity to take on its own.

Cur­rently eight may­ors, one chair­woman and 95 coun­cil­lors rep­re­sent less than half a mil­lion peo­ple – prob­a­bly too many.

The sin­gle mayor and 21 coun- cil­lors pro­posed by the com­mis­sion are pos­si­bly too few.

At some point the pro­tag­o­nists need to pull their heads in, sit down and try to nut out a com­pro­mise that would solve the prob­lems in a way that wouldn’t be knocked over by a ref­er­en­dum.

Now would be good. We have un­til March 2. What hap­pens next? If the draft pro­posal for amal­ga­mat­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ment in the Wellington re­gion stands in its present form, and if a ref­er­en­dum re­jects it, as many pre­dict, the sub­ject will be far from closed.

Of the 17 pro­pos­als put to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion, only Hutt City and Up­per Hutt ad­vo­cated the sta­tus quo.

Ev­ery other sub­mis­sion ac­knowl­edged that some change was nec­es­sary, though they didn’t agree on what form it ought to take. Some change seems in­evitable.

If the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion pro­posal is de­feated in a ref­er­en­dum, a prompt new pro­posal to the com­mis­sion is highly likely, trig­ger­ing a re­match.

The com­mis­sion can­not re­con­sider any sim­i­lar pro­posal, but it could con­sider real al­ter­na­tives.

For in­stance, the three Wairarapa coun­cils could be amal­ga­mated as ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties, and the re­gional coun­cil re­tained.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion took 17 months of con­sul­ta­tion, anal­y­sis and re­search to come up with its draft pro­posal in De­cem­ber, so any new pro­posal could keep the re­gion in limbo un­til the end of 2016, at least.

Ray Wal­lace: Con­fi­dent ref­er­en­dum will fail.

Nick Leggett: Wants more co-op­er­a­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.