Minister warns councils: You can’t go on like this

Hutt News, August 11, 2015

A plan for one council across Wellington was ditched by the Local Government Commission but the minsiter has dropped a big hint she’s not going to let the issue drift.

Paula Bennett, speaking at the recent Local Goernment NZ conference in Rotorua, siad she was as tired as everyone else of arguments over how many mayors there should be, “who is bigger than who, and which area will dominate.”

“Size doesn’t matter but long-term sustainable growth…should.”

Bennett warned that just because the LGC had taken reorganisation proposals for Wellington and Northland off the table, and “because I have clearly stated I will not legislate for large amalgamation”, councils can “all continue as you have.”

“Well you can’t.”

Regions are having the same converations they’ve had for 30 years, she said.

Too many smaller communities aren’t experiencing the levels of growth they need “and suburbs in our big cities are in the same boat.”

The LGC has taken on new commissioners and Bennett said they will work with communities to ensure districts have the right structure, legally, financially, and with the right accountabilities to ensure sustainable growth.

“This might mean a CCO on water or transport across a region.

“It could mean a differnet business structure or increased responsibilities for regional councils.

“it could even mean in areas that might put a number of CCOs in place for key growth and infrastrucuture that there is no longer a need for a regional council.”

Bennett said the LGC will be working up various structure options for each region to look at and decide what works best for them, “and then where necessary I will legislate to either set a new CCO up across a region – or even to take something away.”

Last week the Local Government Commission published a newsletter in which its new chairman, Sir Wira Gardiner, said together with councils, iwi nd the community, the LGC will be looking for change to create  stronger economy, modern infastructure and improved services.