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Northland local government – four weeks to go

22 January 2014

Northland people and organisations are being encouraged to share their views on the future shape of local government while there is still time.

The Local Government Commission has issued a reminder of the deadline for submissions on its draft proposal for reorganisation. The draft was released ten weeks ago on 12 November 2013, and the deadline of 21 February 2014 is now just over four weeks away.

The Commission Chief Executive Donald Riezebos said there had already been a good response to the call for submissions.

“The Commission has so far received 57 public submissions from throughout Northland. From Awanui in the far north to Maungaturoto in the south, people are sharing their thoughts on the best way to achieve good local government in the region,” Mr Riezebos said.

“The Commission anticipates it will also receive submissions from local authorities once they have finished their own consultation processes. We will release a further update once the deadline passes and there has been an opportunity to analyse the submissions. Public hearings will be scheduled in the north for those who want to speak to their submissions.”

The Commission’s draft proposal followed an application by the Far North District Council and an iwi leaders’ group to change the structure of local authorities. The Commission undertook an extensive round of consultation and met more than forty interested or affected groups. It also hosted eleven public meetings.

The Commission proposed one council and one mayor to speak with a region-wide voice for Northland. The need for a single voice for Northland and for local communities to keep their special identities was reflected in the new model of local government.

The new Northland Council would include a second tier of boards to represent diverse local communities. The system of council wards and community boards would ensure elected representatives came from throughout the whole region.

Mr Riezebos added that the option of local boards, with even greater powers to represent their communities, is also a possibility for Northland depending on the passage of legislation currently before Parliament.

A standing committee would ensure the views of the large Māori population were heard. Debts would be ring-fenced to the communities which incurred them or benefit from them for at least six years, after which time the new council would decide whether to leave the arrangements in place.

The Chair of Commission, Basil Morrison, said the ‘whole of Northland’ approach was designed to bind together all communities to create a stronger strategic vision for the region. It would result in more effective advocacy when dealing with central government, public sector agencies and commercial interests and would create simplified and streamlined processes for residents and ratepayers.

The draft proposal is on the Commission’s website www.lgc.govt.nz . It contains guidelines for how to make a submission. The deadline for submissions is 21 February 2014. They can be emailed to info@lgc.govt.nz or posted to: Local Government Commission, PO Box 5362, Wellington 6145. Submission details may be publicly released unless privacy is requested.

ENDS

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