Concern over new collective voice
Amalgamation has not eventuated yet, but a collective ‘spatial plan’ voice could be the first step to that end. Caitlin Wallace reports.
A plan to create a regional ‘collective voice’ has instilled fear in South Waikato District’s councillors.
The scheme named a ‘ spatial plan’ intends to distinguish a joint committee to decide on high priority issues at a regional and sub regional level.
The issues dealt with will be those faced by most in the region, not matters concerning one district only.
Despite the consensus that it is a good idea, most councillors shared the concern that the South Waikato would be lost in translation.
‘‘At the moment, it is totally Hamilton-centric,’’ deputy mayor Jenny Shattock said.
Questions by Shattock were raised about where the South Waikato would fit into the plan.
‘‘I don’t think there is a representation of the South Waikato,’’ she said.
The spatial plan follows discussions of possible amalgamation of Waikato district councils.
Chief Executive Craig Hobbs believed the committee could be the first step in that direction.
‘‘It forms a re-organisation or amalgamation to a degree, so it would allow someone sitting in a Hamilton office managing the greater Waikato region saying, ‘this is where we are going to put money,’’ he said.
Hobbs outlined how he thought the plan would affect the council.
‘‘I think it’s a dangerous thing from a council supported argument,’’ he said.
The council’s input into the second stage of the plan is budgeted at $23,180 but the cost is yet to be approved for the 2014/15 annual plan.
In its second stage, the plan included some of the various key factors of the strengths, challenges and opportunities which would be used as a basis for developing the plan.
The plan suggested it would contribute to the national economy and Hamilton’s opportunity to become the centre for the Waikato.
But challenges of declining rural populations and economic inequalities were also outlined.
There are currently 11 councils around the greater Waikato region that will contribute funding.
The plan will continue up to a sixth stage once research and planning process takes place.