Bill amendment not welcomed, mayor
South Waikato District mayor Neil Sinclair believes the Government’s proposal to reform the Local Government Act has the potential to threaten local democracy.
The Government’s aim with the Better Local Services Bill is to ‘‘improve service delivery and infrastructure provision arrangements at the local government level’’ but Sinclair said while he was not opposed to change it could potentially take away all power from communities to have their say on local and regional matters.
He said the council was also concerned about the lack of consultation that went into the drafting of the bill.
‘‘The local government commissioner will have the power to appoint chief commercial officers (CCO) which will effectively run water, roads, and sewage. It is a threat to local democracy and local decision making,’’ he said.
‘‘If you took those things away from the council and the Government continues to believe we should not do the four wellbeings (promotion of the social, cultural, economic, and environmental wellbeing of communities) then I don’t know what we would exist for.’’
‘‘For legislation that will have such wide reaching impacts on local government, it is very worrying that no consultation occurred with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM), and individual councils.’’
‘‘This is probably one of the biggest challenges that is going to face the new mayor and a new council,’’ he said.
The council has made a formal submission to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee outlining its concerns and in support of submissions made by LGNZ and the SOLGM.
The council’s submission also states that it would like to appear before the select committee.
At LGNZ’S annual conference in Dunedin last week, which was attended by Sinclair, deputy mayor Jenny Shattock, councillor Jeff Gash, and deputy chief executive Ben Smit, 97 per cent of members voted in favour of a remit.
They called for vigorous opposition to any measure in the Bill that directly or indirectly removes the requirement for community consultation and demonstrable community support.
South Waikato District mayor Neil Sinclair fears the impact the Government’s proposal to reform the Local Government Act could have locally.