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Public opinion rejects super-city idea, says Celia Wade-Brown

Press Release – Wellington City Council
Wellington City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown has today offered the following response to the media release issued by the Regional Governance Working Party.

“Today’s Working Party report focuses on a single Governing Body for the region. We must consult the public on options that more closely match the public opinion already received that reject the idea of one super-city”

“I have consistently raised the need to consider a range of options, not just a narrow focus on a single über-Council. Today’s announcement of two super-city models confirms people’s concerns that most participants had closed minds to alternatives.

“It is unreasonable to ignore the clearly expressed wishes of the communities, Councils and Mayors of the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa, and their clear desire to retain autonomy and meaningful local democracy.”

“Wellington City has the top quality of life in the country, 93% think the capital is a great place to live and many consider us to be the most liveable city in New Zealand. This is not the symptom of a broken system.”

“I have consistently expressed reservations about a super-city from Miramar to Masterton or Owhiro Bay to Otaki. The larger an organisation, the more bureaucratic it can become and the greater the separation between elected members and their constituents.

“The working party’s two-tier super city proposal returns almost a hundred elected members – with most having little real say on important policy issues. It merely tinkers with the Geoffrey Palmer report.

“The single tier option, while offering simpler accountability, raises real issues about whether local democracy would suffer unduly. There is far more than one voice in our region and people appreciate the advantages of diversity.

Other options exist for reform. Simplifying current arrangements by removing the Regional Council and having Councils working collaboratively where necessary – the Wellington Capital City, the Hutt Valley, Kapi-Mana (Kāpiti and Porirua) and the Wairarapa is appealing.

“Three or four Councils instead of nine would lead to streamlined decision making while still promoting and protecting local identity. Along with the Mayors of the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa, I look forward to seeing more detail developed on this “multi-unitary” option.

“Last year Wellington City Council accepted the invitation to join the Regional Governance Working Party, in good faith, to explore options for possible change in local governance arrangements that might benefit the Wellington region.

“Finally, I want to emphasise that any final proposal of the Local Government Commission must be compared against the status quo in a public poll. It is the people of the Wellington region who will – and rightly should – decide the ultimate outcome, and they must have the full range of informed choices in front of them.”