Coun­cil backs peo­ple power

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PURONGORONGO - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Power to over­turn amal­ga­ma­tion will be in the hands of South Waikato res­i­dents if a re­or­gan­i­sa­tion pol­icy is ac­cepted.

The South Waikato District Coun­cil sup­ported a Lo­cal Govern­ment New Zealand [ LGNZ] pol­icy which states no re­or­gan­i­sa­tion can oc­cur if the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in the district vote against it.

The LGNZ has since voted in favour of the pro­posal and it will now lobby the Govern­ment to im­ple­ment it into leg­is­la­tion.

Mayor Neil Sin­clair re­jected the Prop­erty Coun­cil’s Waikato amal­ga­ma­tion pro­posal ear­lier this year.

He said any re­or­gan­i­sa­tion should be a de­ci­sion made by the res­i­dents.

‘‘ There should be a ma­jor­ity of each af­fected district in favour of it,’’ he said.

He said there had been no ‘‘great grounds’’ for the pro­posal but feared the sta­tus quo would leave smaller pop­u­lated district’s on the back foot.

If any de­ci­sion was left to an out­side party it would likely go ahead, he said.

‘‘Hamil­ton could out-vote us and take over,’’ he said.

While Sin­clair be­lieved it was the right idea, coun­cil­lor Anne Ed­meades was skep­ti­cal about it work­ing.

‘‘My con­cern is how are we go­ing to get peo­ple to vote?’’ she said.

Prop­erty Coun­cil’s Waikato Amal­ga­ma­tion Sub­com­mit­tee spokesman Thomas Gib­bons saw this as a way out for coun­cils.

‘‘Prop­erty Coun­cil would also like to see in­di­vid­ual coun­cils prop­erly and hon­estly con­sult­ing with their com­mu­ni­ties on their fu­tures and the is­sue of amal­ga­ma­tion,’’ he said.

He be­lieved it was not an ‘‘ap­pro­pri­ate role’’ for the LGNZ.

While Gib­bons re­mains unim­pressed with the pro­posal, he is in favour of tak­ing the de­ci­sion to res­i­dents.

‘‘The big pic­ture of the Waikato’s fu­ture is a topic that every­one should have a say in, with­out mat­ters be­ing pre- de­ter­mined by ex­ist­ing coun­cil struc­tures and patch pro­tec­tion,’’ he said.

The Prop­erty Coun­cil Waikato branch was work­ing with stake­hold­ers to pro­duce a draft sub­mis­sion.

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