Resounding ‘no’ to Wellington uber-council, says survey

24 February 2015

There is strong opposition to the Local Government Commission’s proposed ‘two-tier’ amalgamated local authority across the Wellington region, a survey commissioned by Wellington City Council has found.

The survey results have been revealed on the eve of the Wellington City Council discussing its submission to the LGC’s proposal to amalgamate nine councils into a vast two-tier council covering the lower North Island from Wairarapa and Kapiti Coast through to metropolitan Wellington.

Across the region, support for the LGC’s proposal is ‘very weak’ at 26 percent according to the Nielsen survey conducted earlier this month, which had a margin of +/- 3.1 percent.

Support for the proposal is weakest in the Wairarapa (17%) and the Hutt Valley (18%), support is higher in Porirua and Kapiti (29%) and Wellington (30%). The survey of 1000 people was commissioned to guide Wellington City’s submission to the LGC. The submission period closes this Sunday, 2 March.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the survey shows there is substantial opposition to the current two-tier proposal, and it is doomed to fail if it is put to a regional referendum.

“This is a robust survey and the results are very clear: there is very little appetite among residents in the Wellington region to the Makara to Masterton model as proposed by the LGC,” says the Mayor.

“The LGC model promotes a two-tier structure that encourages friction rather than a streamlined approach. Wairarapa residents and Hutt Valley residents are fiercely protective of their sense of place, and across the whole region the public are very wary of the current proposal.”

Mayor Wade-Brown says that there still exists an opportunity to rethink governance in the Wellington region. The survey shows that an alternative model, which had a separate Wairarapa council and one or more metro councils, would have support in the region at 50 percent.

“The Mayors now need to get in behind a more pragmatic and palatable approach, such as a simpler model that could also remove an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy in the Regional Council,” says the Mayor.

Council’s submission notes that since 2013, governance of economic development, three waters and IT services have taken strides forward in cooperation across the region, and that Wellington’s GDP per capita is considerably higher than either Auckland or the national average, and it continues grow at a similar rate.