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.

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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