Businesses favour super-city
Merger ‘will keep rates in check’
Three- quarters of Porirua’s Chamber of Commerce members favour a change in local government in the Wellington region, a recent survey showed.
Surveys of chamber members in the Hutt Valley, Wellington, Kapiti, Wairarapa and Porirua were carried out last month.
The feedback was that some form of change from the current model of nine councils was needed, Porirua Chamber of Commerce chairman and acting chief executive Peter Couchman said.
Though just a third of the 249 members in Porirua returned surveys, he said that was a good response compared to elsewhere in the region.
‘‘The key feelings we’re getting is that change to the current system will have a positive effect on the region and there’s a real appetite for it,’’ Couchman said.
‘‘There will be a better use of resources, amalgamation will keep rates in check and it will give businesses, in Porirua and across Wellington as a whole, a stronger voice.’’
Thirty-five per cent of Porirua chamber members supported the Local Government Commission proposal of one council and community boards, 40 per cent suggested improvements and 26 per cent were opposed to change.
There was a general feeling that those who wanted change saw the Wairarapa as its own authority, Couchman said, and that current close connections with Tawa and north Wellington would be further enhanced in a super-city.
Couchman said good work was being done with services like water already, so there was no reason why a super- city wouldn’t give businesses similar opportunities.
‘‘Many businesses in Porirua are world- class and operate regionally, nationally and across the globe anyway.
‘‘ They’re doing their thing, and doing it well, no matter what happens [with amalgamation].
‘‘But the feedback from the surveys said streamlined services, cost savings and more of a regional direction could only enhance what we have. It’s about maximising what we have and stopping the duplication that’s going on.’’
Couchman said it was disappointing to learn there was a reliance by chamber members in Porirua on the media to disseminate information on amalgamation.
‘‘Businesspeople really need to be reading the proposal [by the Local Government Commission].
‘‘It is something that is going to have far-reaching effects if it happens and there needs to be more understanding.’’
Couchman said it was a time of change for Porirua Chamber of Commerce.
A new executive director would be appointed shortly, replacing Holly Thompson, and there was a new chairman and several new board members.
Closer relationships with the region’s other chambers was a priority, he said. ‘‘It’s an exciting time. ‘‘We’re going in a new direction and our membership is growing and we want to keep building it.’’
Once the commission has considered the 8700 submissions and released its final proposal, Porirua Chamber of Commerce members would be surveyed again, Couchman said.
Changing times: Peter Couchman, chairman of Porirua Chamber of Commerce.