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Wellington Residents Assoc. Mistaken


Wellington Residents Assoc. Mistaken

A recent press release from the Wellington Residents Coalition, suggesting water services in Hutt City and Wellington will be put 'into a joint water trading organisation which will operate under commercial law and be open to competition from private companies,' is simply incorrect, Kirk MacGibbon Hutt City Communications Manager said today.

The Wellington Residents Coalition has called a meeting for Sunday 22 June to hear a 'leading activist' speak about Metro Water and 'what has happened in Auckland.' ( www.scoop.co.nz 17 June)

"Wellingtonians may well want to go and hear stories about Auckland but they need to know that, in terms of the management of water services at least, they'd probably have a better time going to a movie," said Kirk MacGibbon.

"What the Councils have agreed to is totally different to Metro Water in Auckland. Metro Water is an example of corporatisation of water services which, unlike the Wellington water management unit, is an asset owning, policy and water charges-setting utility company (owned by Auckland City Council).

"Under the proposal adopted by both councils, each Council (Hutt City & Wellington City) will continue to be the provider of water services, will retain ownership of their own water systems, will continue to set their own water policy and will continue to set their own water charges through the Community Plan process, as happens now."

"It should also be noted that the Local Government Act 2002 has an objective to prevent the privatisation of water services, and encourages Councils to co-operate in the delivery of services.

"The joint unit is entirely consistent with this legislation and will simply enable the behind the scenes activity involved in managing water services (engineering, asset management, contract management etc) to be carried out on a combined, cooperative basis.

"Eliminating the current duplication between the two Councils will enable these activities to be carried out to higher standards at less cost."

The form of the water unit will be a Council Controlled Trading Organisation (as provided for in the Local Government Act 2002) with a non profit objective and an underlying legal form of a company.

"It will aim to break even with respect to the management activities it carries out on behalf of Hutt City Council and Wellington City Council."

The current proposal was the subject of a comprehensive public consultation process in October and November 2002. As part of this consultation process information about the proposal was delivered to all households in Wellington and Hutt City.

There was more, detailed information available at Council offices, libraries and on the Council websites, public meetings and an opportunity to present submissions (written and in person).

There was a significant majority of public support for the proposal arising from the consultation process.

"The irony is that, if what the Wellington Residents Coalition is trying to achieve is water services retained in Council ownership and control (with Councils continuing to set charges through their planning processes and continuing to set water policy) at the lowest sustainable cost to ratepayers, then we agree with them.

"That is precisely what the joint unit will achieve."

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