Press Release – Better Wellington
A new group in Wellington City has been established to express community support for amalgamating the nine councils across the Wellington Region.
Better Wellington supports one local authority for the Wellington region.
Spokesperson John Shewan says that the amalgamation presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Wellingtonians to come together to create a more resilient, responsive, and competitive region.
“Wellington is the most fantastic city in the world, fullstop,” says Mr Shewan. “But it’s clear to a lot of people that Wellington is dropping off the pace. Having a single council for the region will allow us to speak with one voice to central government, to pool our resources on things like economic development and climate change, and to create world-class infrastructure for the residents.”
Group member Sue Elliott says that amalgamation is about coming together to future-proof the region. “This is really about ensuring that 20 to 30 years from now Wellington remains a thriving place capable of retaining talented people and businesses,” says Ms Elliott. “Other cities like Auckland and Christchurch get a lot of government attention. Plus Wellington now has to compete with places like Sydney and Brisbane for young professionals, tourists, and students. So it’s really important that the region sings from the same song sheet to keep us ahead of the game.”
Group member Mike Egan says that amalgamation is clearly the best way forward. “When you stand back for a moment and look at the bigger picture, it just makes sense that the 9 councils come together. All the people I speak to about amalgamation support it, so let’s make it happen.”
Better Wellington strongly supports the Local Boards system used in Auckland. “It is the way to go,” says group member Julian Light. “Local Boards would give the residents of Wellington real control over local issues that matter to people including libraries, swimming pools, galleries, museums, environmental initiatives, and heritage protection. Our expectation is that the Local Boards would spend around 25% of the new council’s total rates. It’s really only the big overarching issues that would be dealt with by the main council.”
The group encourages Wellingtonians to sign-up as supporters at their website (www.betterwellington.org.nz). Group member Francie Russell says “We need to reinforce our premier brand for culture and entertainment. Now is the time for Wellington people who support change to voice their opinion. It’s a really critical moment with the Local Government Commission considering all the options. This is an absolute must for the Wellington region but we actually need to make it happen.”
The members of Better Wellington are John Shewan, Sue Elliot, Julian Light, Francie Russell, Mike Egan, Viv Maidaborn, and Martin Shelton.