Coun­cil tin­kers with su­per-city idea

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Porirua City Coun­cil has wa­tered down its of­fi­cial sub­mis­sion on amal­ga­ma­tion, now pre­fer­ring to sup­port Wairarapa stand­ing alone and more con­sul­ta­tion to be donewith Tawa res­i­dents.

Coun­cil­lors made im­pas­sioned state­ments when the sub­mis­sion to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion on whether the re­gion should have a su­per- city was signed off at a spe­cial meet­ing last Thurs­day.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said though plenty had been made in the me­dia of the di­vi­sions be­tween the re­gion’s coun­cils, and amal­ga­ma­tion be­ing un­likely to get past a ref­er­en­dum, change had to come.

‘‘While we are mak­ing slight amend­ments to­day on our orig­i­nal pro­posal [ re­gard­ing Wairarapa and Tawa], the prin­ci­ples we adopted more than two years ago still stand,’’ he said.

‘‘The things that the Hutt Val­ley are scared of, such as loss of iden­tity, have been dis­cussed for two years.

‘‘If Whitby and Can­nons Creek can feel part of Porirua, and their val­ues and needs are met, then why can’t the same be true of Up­per Hutt and Porirua in one coun­cil?

‘‘There will al­ways be a wide range of views, but we should not be ter­ri­fied by the fact that peo­ple do not agree with our po­si­tion.’’

The back­ground to the coun­cil’s sub­mis­sion noted that 75 per cent of its in­come was from rates and that Porirua has the least num­ber of rate­able units for its pop­u­la­tion of any coun­cil in New Zealand.

Pro­jected spend­ing in the next 10 years and res­i­dent ex­pec­ta­tions of ser­vice lev­els was not sus­tain­able, the re­port said.

The two-tiered author­ity of a greater Welling­ton coun­cil with lo­cal boards – in­clud­ing a Porirua/ Tawa board of seven elected mem­bers – was still pre­ferred, Leggett said. But a sin­gle author­ity for Wairarapa was now the bet­ter op­tion, he said.

‘‘Wairarapa does not want to be told about where they should fit,’’ he said. ‘‘My per­sonal view is that Wairarapa can­not stand on its own, but we ac­cept the ar­gu­ment that their towns would fit bet­ter un­der a uni­tary author­ity.’’

Tawa shares re­tail, ed­u­ca­tion, eco­nomic, catch­ment and other ar­eas with Porirua, but the coun­cil rec­om­mended the com­mis­sion work closely with the Tawa com­mu­nity to get its views on which lo­cal board it would pre­fer.

Coun­cil­lor John Burke said he agreed with the coun­cil’s po­si­tion on amal­ga­ma­tion and ad­mired ‘‘the courage that some of our neigh­bours have failed to show’’.

Porirua City Coun­cil was slightly ahead of public opin­ion on the is­sue, he said, which was both com­mend­able and danger­ous.

He was con­vinced most Tawa res­i­dents did not want a com­bined board with Porirua.

Deputy mayor ’Ana Cof­fey said lo­cal democ­racy wasn’t bro­ken, but it might break soon, so a proac­tive ap­proach was nec­es­sary.

‘‘There is talk about tooth­less lo­cal boards and less chance for the com­mu­nity to have a say [in a su­per-city], but that’s wrong,’’ she said.

‘‘Plenty of peo­ple I have talked to be­lieve com­mu­nity boards is the right model.

‘‘ They in­flu­ence their neigh­bour­hood and res­i­dents will go to them about dogs, rub­bish, street­lights and jump­ing off bridges [at Pare­mata].’’

Coun­cil­lor Bron­wyn Kropp said ‘‘myth­bust­ing’’ needed to hap­pen about the neg­a­tiv­ity around amal­ga­ma­tion and pointed out that vot­ing in lo­cal body elec­tions was woe­ful.

‘‘ It’s hard to raise the flag for democ­racy when well un­der half the en­rolled vot­ers ac­tu­ally vote,’’ she said.

‘‘Peo­ple will be able to grasp the idea of a sin­gle coun­cil more eas­ily. When we are elected in a ward in Porirua we still have the best in­ter­ests and the vi­sion of the city at heart.’’

A meet­ing of all the coun­cils af­fected by the pro­posal has been called by Porirua City Coun­cil for to­mor­row.

‘‘We ex­pect all coun­cils will par­tic­i­pate in the meet­ing,’’ Leggett said.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant we get to­gether and agree on a way for­ward for the re­gion to work bet­ter be­fore the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion makes a fi­nal pro­posal that will go to a bind­ing ref­er­en­dum.’’

Pro­gres­sive: City coun­cil­lors say Porirua is lead­ing the way on the su­per-city is­sue. Photo: KRIS DANDO

Amal­ga­ma­tion sup­porter: John Burke saluted the city coun­cil’s courage.

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