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Empower our communities, political parties told

MEDIA RELEASE

Empower our communities, political parties told

For immediate release on 15 June 2005

“Work with us to empower our communities” is the message Local Government New Zealand’s President Basil Morrison has given to New Zealand’s political parties in its local government manifesto, released in Wellington today.

“Local government must have more ability to determine of itself how it will fulfill its mandated roles and responsibilities towards communities. We have told the political parties that, if they are elected as our next Government, they need to work not as regulators but as partners in ensuring the future development of our communities.

“To make this happen we need to further build our role as a partner with Government in policy development. We need the government to move away from “one size fits all” solutions and incorporate the diverse local needs and concerns of our communities. As a particular priority, we need to complete the current review of local government funding, including an examination of any and all new funding tools.”

Mr Morrison said funding pressures were a critical issue facing councils and their communities. Local Government New Zealand has asked that political parties consider a range of solutions which may relieve the pressure.

“The funding debate relates to three areas: new duties and responsibilities originating from central government policies and regulation; the challenge to meet increasing community expectations, particularly in the areas of transport and infrastructure; and the need to explore the viability of new non-rating funding tools.

“A key message in this manifesto is that the transfer of roles and responsibilities by Government to local government has not been accompanied by a matching transfer of resources, or of tools to enable these new activities. In too many cases the cost of local policy development and local implementation of national standards and regulations has been left to councils to fund from existing and constrained funding sources

“Addressing these issues will help maintain the sustainability of local government funding and particularly take the pressure off those communities where a small number of ratepayers have to support large-scale infrastructure investment.”

“The political parties have been responsive to our policy priorities. We have addressed our message to all potential coalition partners, and asked all of them to ensure that they have an effective working relationship with local government, if they form part of the incoming Government,” said Mr Morrison.

Local Government New Zealand has sought a commitment from all political parties to address a range of policy initiatives detailed in the manifesto, Empowering Local Roles, available from www.lgnz.co.nz

Ends

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