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Wairarapa Left Out of Wellington Region Merger Discussions

[Carterton, Masterton and South Wairarapa District Councils]

Media Release 6 January 2013

Wairarapa Left Out of Wellington Region Merger Discussions

Wairarapa Mayors are welcoming the early recognition that their region should be left out of any proposed restructuring of the local bodies in the Wellington metropolitan area.

Chairman of the “western” Local Government Reform Working Party Ken Douglas has advised the Wairarapa Mayors that their districts are not being offered a seat at the table for the discussions of a proposed single unitary council model.

As there are “differing views” amongst the members of the working party about including Carterton, Masterton and the South Wairarapa re the proposed super city council, Mr Douglas says they are not being invited to take part in the process of developing the preferred local government model.

The ‘western’ working party was set up by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Porirua City Council to develop a merger scheme and now includes the Wellington City Council and Kapiti District Council.

Including the Wairarapa council districts in any Wellington regional merger would create a super city nearly twice the size of Auckland in area, and much more complex and costly to administer.

The letter from Mr Douglas which contains the decision not to offer the Wairarapa councils a seat at the table of the Wellington governance working group, now named the “western” group, came as a result of a request from the Mayor of South Wairarapa, Adrienne Staples, on behalf of the Wairarapa group.

“We were originally pleased to see a regional working party had been formed as it is something that we have suggested through various mayoral forums and special region-wide hui held in recent months,” Mayors Adrienne Staples, Ron Mark (Carterton) and Garry Daniell (Masterton) said.

“This is consistent with our approach in Wairarapa and we were keen to bring the work we have done over the past 12 months to the table and discuss this with the other councils, who have a range of preferences, because all of our work is intertwined. But the response we have received confirms our view that we will not have the influence our constituents need if a super city structure that included the Wairarapa was progressed.

However the Wairarapa Mayors do have one concern about having no representative around the table and that is a lack of transparency. “We haven’t been fully consulted to date and as a result we have noticed a creeping lack of transparency which has resulted in unsubstantiated and potentially inaccurate and misleading information being distributed.


“It is important that the information distributed is full, frank and in context, and this can only be achieved when everyone is around the table, matters are discussed comprehensively, and the information is properly challenged and tested,” Mayors Adrienne Staples, Ron Mark and Garry Daniell said.

Carterton Mayor Ron Mark, sees the reply from the “western” group as a Claytons response. “The proposal of a separate consultation for Wairarapa CEO’s and the Wairarapa Governance review working party, instead of being at the main table, is the offer you get when you are not going to be listened to. And the last thing the Wairarapa needs is to become just an appendage to a metro centred city bureaucracy, to be consulted only when it suits their wants and needs.”


ENDS

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