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Amalgamation? A super city? Regional councillors launch a debate, anonymously

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Arguments in favour of a super city for the Wellington region are being distributed in a strangely anonymous way. When a document was sent to Scoop a couple of weeks ago, this was the covering message:

This release is to publish a copy of a paper prepared by some of the Greater Wellington Regional Council councillors.

We are putting it into the public domain in part to help stimulate what has been so far a relatively lacklustre debate, and partly in anticipation of early post-election action by an incoming administration interested in changing the political balance of central and local agencies.

We would be very interested in your comments, and warmly invite you to forward your thoughts to any councillors, who are all able to be reached via firstname.surname@gw.govt.nz.

But there are no names on the paper. It’s evident that a lot of work has gone into its preparation – the latest version is the ninth draft. But no one is taking ownership of it.

My copy came from regional councillor Judith Aitken. The council chair Fran Wilde is reported to be involved as well. But why wouldn’t they put their names on such a detailed proposal? Perhaps because they were nervous about public response?

Former Kapiti regional councillor Chris Turver says he’s concerned. He says the plans could severely limit Kapiti’s right to run its own affairs within two years – “that’s when the Kapiti Coast District Council could be abolished and replaced with a lower-level Community Council controlled and funded from Wellington.”

Wellingtonians should be concerned as well. If the Regional Council is driving the debate, then they will remember the council’s strangely undemocratic decision to support a flyover at the Basin Reserve. The City Council was able to debate the subject, and come to a decision to oppose it. Not so the Regional Council. Its support for the flyover showed a dreadful lack of awareness about the needs and wishes of the capital city.

The Greens’ Sue Kedgley has pointed out that the anonymous proposal would wipe out eight councils and get rid of 87 per cent of local councillors, replacing them with a group of 11 and some local boards. She says she has detected no appetite from Wellingtonians for such a shakeup. And as for the effectiveness of local boards – check the unhappiness in Supercity Auckland. The Howick local board is complaining that their district rates have gone up but funding has gone down. In St Heliers, people are taking to the streets this weekend to protest against the super city’s refusal to protect heritage buildings in their suburb.

Anyway, for anyone who has the time this weekend, the full anonymous discussion paper is here. See if you think that Wellington would benefit from having one super council.

8 comments:

  1. Dave, 11. November 2011, 11:36

    There are some tax-and-redistribute fans leading this ‘anonymous’ discussion paper, along with some prima donnas well past their useful shelf life who should quietly go away and stop feeding from the public purse. Still, I’m all for good public debate so I’m glad the discussion paper is now ‘out’ to coin a phrase.
    Of course, it’s how the ‘discussion’ is manipulated I’ll be even more keen to observe. Rule #1 in politics – ‘always follow the money trail’ and there will be the raison d’etre for writing and publishing this ‘discussion paper’.

     
  2. Trish Janes, 11. November 2011, 13:09

    The idea of a super council for Wellington was promoted by a bunch of has been pollys before the 2010 local body elections. Their “One Wellington” website is still active. It says they are in the process of forming a Charitable Trust to further their objectives. However there is no such trust registered with the Charities Commission, perhaps because it was ruled out as being political rather than serving the public interest.

    But at least it includes some of its authors’ names: John Terris and Ken Douglas. The site includes endorsements by several people including someone named as Kerry Prendergast who is claiming to be Mayor of Wellington.

    Also check it out: http://issues.co.nz/onewellington/What+People+Think

     
  3. Ron Oliver, 11. November 2011, 16:49

    By my reckoning, there are about 116 Councillors in the Wellington region. (That includes the regional council). It appears that many city councillors are blissfully unaware that, if the National Party gets re-elected, a big majority of the present councillors will be looking for a job.(Somewhere around 100 of you). Welcome to the unemployed and the no longer needed.
    There’s a figure being passed around that the Super City would require only 11 on the new super council. An earlier figure suggested around 16 or 17. (This is somewhere on a par with Auckland Super City). Perhaps some of you might like to reconsider where your voting loyalties lie. The corporate world can sometimes turn quite nasty and not always be so obliging and entertaining. I wonder if it is too late for some of you to wake up or don’t you think it really matters?

     
  4. erentz, 11. November 2011, 17:15

    There’s certainly merit in the idea being discussed. But I can’t for the life of me work out what is sensible about forming a super city that includes the Wairarapa. Amalgamation if it happens should clearly be restricted to the urbanised parts of the region, Wellington City, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, and Porirua. There’s a very clear geographic, demographic, cultural, etc. distinction between the rural Wairarapa and four urban cities of Wellington. To a lesser extent also with Kapiti.

     
  5. James, 12. November 2011, 21:20

    One of the mentioned advantages of Wellington is intellectual capital.

    The Glean Media Report of science talks is currently unfunded, and may collapse if it does not find sponsors. If that happens I, for one, will have much less reason to stay in Wellington.

     
  6. Ron Oliver, 19. November 2011, 14:07

    I wonder if any one has considered how many of the various councils’ employees will become excess un-necessaries to requirements in this rationalization of the workforce. There are eight councils aren’t there? That is a lot of staff.
    It would most likely be considerably more than around the 100 councillors who will also be looking for a job. I’m retired, but I wish those unlucky chosen people the best in being able to find work to support themselves. For myself, I’m beginning to worry about the cutbacks to my government pension that this present government is probably planning.

     
  7. The City is Ours, 21. November 2011, 12:43

    Why don’t we jump to Tawa’s example and form Community Boards before we get pushed into this Super City idea?

     
  8. Ralph Mouth, 22. November 2011, 11:37

    Newlands and Paparangi residents have been trying to establish a Community Board for ages. The last I heard about it was that the WCC was against forming anymore CBs. I guess this is because it takes power away from them and gives it back to ratepayers.