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Working Party Chair Keen for Wellington, Wairarapa to talk

Date: 8 January 2013

Local Govt Working Party Chair Keen for Wellington And Wairarapa Mayors to Talk

Ken Douglas, Chair of the Local Government Reform Working Party, says it is regrettable the Wairarapa Times-Age has reported the Wairarapa mayors have interpreted his letter of invitation to meet with Wellington and western councils as not offering participation in a regional discussion and exchange of views on regional local governance reform.

“In my letter I extended the following invitation: ‘We [the working party] agreed we should set up a meeting of the leaders of the councils on our working group and members of your working group in early 2013 to share information, discuss issues in common and determine a process for working together’.

“I am disappointed the mayors have now indicated, through the media, that they believe they have not been invited to be part of the discussions concerning the future of the whole Wellington region. That clearly, was not the intention of the letter.
“I am also baffled by comment about the distribution of unsubstantiated and potentially inaccurate and misleading information.

“We agree there is a need for the public to have totally correct information and, even if councils have different outcomes in mind, it is important that full and clear facts are available. To ensure transparency, the Regional Council has opened its books and provided information about its activities and costs in the Wairarapa.”

Mr Douglas says the Wairarapa mayors have already expressed their preference for a unitary council to govern the areas currently comprising Carterton, Masterton and South Wairarapa district councils and residents have been asked to take part in consultation.
“That is their prerogative,” he says.

“Our working party is developing a model based on a single unitary council for the region, with a second tier of either local boards or community boards. Obviously, we need a coherent model that we can take to the community and that subsequently will need to be formally approved by councils. There are still a number of issues outstanding, including the role of the Wairarapa.

Mr Douglas says he would be pleased to see the mayors from Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa meet representatives of the working party in January to talk about the role they would like to play and discuss a process for working together.


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