Submissions Give First View of Reform Opinions

20 July 2012

Two strong schools of thought are apparent from the initial analysis of 1,209 submissions to Wellington City Council on the question of local government reform in the region.

Map showing the four options for local government reform in the Wellington region

Map showing the four options for local government reform in the Wellington region

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the submissions show opinions from submitters are fairly evenly divided between people who want local-authority 'status quo' and those who want various levels of regional amalgamation.

She says, however, that this is the first real attempt to gauge public opinion - and a Colmar Brunton regional survey currently under way, and public hearings later this month and in early August, will provide clarity on broader community perspectives.

An initial analysis of the submissions shows that when asked if they wanted change or no change:

  • 77% of respondents said they want some change
  • 23% said no change

Of the submitters that chose an option for governance changes:

25% (252) chose Option 1 - all existing councils remain the same - but move towards greater use of 'shared services' and improve the ways they work with each other. 

15% (147) chose Option 2 - merge the nine existing councils into three bigger councils:

  • Wellington Capital and Coast Council - combining Wellington City, Porirua City and, possibly, Kapiti Coast District
  • Hutt Valley Council - combining Hutt and Upper Hutt cities
  • Wairarapa Council - combining the three councils in the Wairarapa.

Greater Wellington Regional Council would be abolished.

30% (296) chose Option 3 - merge all existing councils into two big councils:

  • Wellington Council - combining Wellington City, Porirua, Hutt and Upper Hutt cities and, possibly, Kapiti Coast District
  • Wairarapa Council - combining the three councils in the Wairarapa.

Again, the regional council would be abolished.    

23% (234) chose Option 4 - merge all existing councils into one council for the whole region, including the Wairarapa, with 10 local boards elected to look after 'local' services. 

Another 7% (68) of respondents said there should be another choice of option.

Mayor Wade-Brown says she has seen the issues paper released yesterday by the Panel established by the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

"I am pleased to see the options on which we've just concluded consultation have been incorporated into their thinking.

"We sought to identify how Wellington residents and others throughout the region responded to proposals for what local government could look like in future. The Panel has clearly considered those options and drawn them in - which we welcome.

"As we draw together information from thousands of residents throughout the region, we will obviously continue to work with all the other councils to develop a more detailed proposal that reflects what residents wish to see as well as what will be best for us here in Wellington.

"We recognise the Panel's contribution to this debate and look forward to their ongoing support for a broad process of consultation." 

Councillor Paul Eagle, the City Council's Community Engagement Portfolio Leader, says the random phone survey of 3,300 people across the region by Colmar Brunton is now under way to get further data on opinions on local government change. The survey was commissioned by Wellington City together with all of the territorial local authorities in the region.  

He says the results of both the submissions and the survey will be analysed and made publicly available in August.  Meanwhile, more than 70 individuals have indicated they want to speak at hearings held by Wellington City Council late this month ad early next month.

Councillors will consider a report about a way forward on governance for the city and region in late August, and will also be talking to the Panel chaired by Sir Geoffrey Palmer once the Council has had the opportunity to consider what the community has had to say on the issue.