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WDC To Seek Public Opinion On Northland Local Govt Structure

Media Release

11 January 2013

Whangarei District Council To Seek Public Opinion On Local Government Structure For Northland

During the last council term there were discussions between councils in Northland about local government reorganisation. A number of models for restructuring local government were discussed and some consultation was undertaken. This process proved inconclusive and the matter lapsed.

Since that time we have entered new terms of both Council and Central Government, the Local Government Act has been amended and the Auckland ‘super city’ has been formed. As a result the potential reorganisation of local government has become an issue right across New Zealand.

Whangarei District Council’s position is clear – we want to hear our community’s views before we make any recommendations about options for Northland. At the Council meeting of 24 October 2012 the following resolution was passed:

That staff work with all elected members to identify options for more detailed analysis.
A detailed report examining these options is prepared.
A public consultation program and associated materials are developed.
The detailed report and consultation program are brought back to council for approval.

Since then the Northland Regional Council has formed a similar position, and we will be talking to them about running a joint consultation program. We will also ask the Kaipara District Council whether they want to consult their community at the same time.

However, last month Far North District Council lodged an application to become a unitary authority with the Local Government Commission. Not only does this have implications for the rest of Northland, their application included various statements about WDC’s position that are inaccurate.

In particular, their application states that it was developed in collaboration with WDC. We did not collaborate or have any input to the application, and our first reading of it was this month when we downloaded it from the FNDC website.

It also implies that WDC has already established a position regarding the future local government structure for Northland.

This is not so. Any suggestion that we have already formed a view about the future structure of local government is wrong. Our Council has not made any plans or decisions about Local Government amalgamation, and will not do so until all the information to be considered by our community is gathered together and put to them via a robust consultation programme.

Our Council does support the process of reviewing the sector and seeking efficiencies and improvements. We have stated this in a letter from our Mayor Morris Cutforth, to the Far North District Council. However, it was not an indicator of support for or opposition to any application by Far North District Council.

Since the October meeting we have been following up on final changes to (and adoption of) the Local Government Act and we have begun preliminary work on the options to take to our community for consultation, which will probably take place in March.

No work has (or will be) done on a submission until that consultation is complete and the community has made its position on the future structure of local government in Northland clear to Council.

ENDS

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