Miramar to Masterton was always too far for real local democracy

9 June 2015

The decision of the Local Government Commission to withdraw their recommendations for a single über-council reflects the views of the vast majority of opinions within the community, says Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

The Local Government Commission (LGC) has announced that it would not proceed with the current proposal to amalgamate the Wellington region’s nine councils.

“Today’s decision shows that, for the vast majority of people, Miramar to Masterton was always too far for real local democracy. People don’t want one über-council ,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“I’ve consistently said that Miramar to Masterton was too far for effective local democracy. The proposed two-tier system model separated the decision-making from the citizens of the region. Local boards were rightly regarded as toothless.”

Ninety percent of submissions to the LGC were against the proposal, in keeping with previous surveys around the region. An earlier survey in February 2015 showed that, across the region, support for the LGC’s proposal was ‘very weak’ at 26 percent.

“This shows that views have been consistent over time, with a 2012 survey also showing a majority against one council for the whole region,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“The decision of the Local Government Commission opens the way for a more pragmatic solution that keeps the people close to the decision-making process while offering some streamlining of the current structure.

“The region’s councils already collaborate on emergency management, water and economic development. We can still work with other councils in the region to achieve a simpler, more streamlined approach.

“One possible example is three councils along the lines of district health boards in the region; the Wairarapa, the Hutt Valley and the Capital and along the coast, without the second tier of the Regional Council,” she said.

Wellington Deputy Mayor Justin Lester says the current process has been a distraction and further delays are unfortunate. “Lessons must be taken from this process, and if there are any future proposals they would need to have broad community support,” he said.