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Cross-boundary services on the table for Waikato councils

How to best support growing communities across existing council boundaries was a recurring theme at last week’s Hamilton City Council meeting.

Growth in Hamilton, as well as in the adjoining Waikato and Waipa District Council areas and the wider Waikato, is creating communities which work, play and study in one council area, while living in another.

Hamilton City Council Chief Executive Richard Briggs says the clear message from the Council at last Thursday’s (12 October 2018) meeting was the importance of conversations and collaboration.

“The way people live, work and travel in the Waikato is not defined by territorial boundaries. Ensuring we look after people regionally will mean a joint approach between neighbouring councils,” Mr Briggs says.

“We each need to look after our own ratepayers, but also acknowledge the cross-boundary connections we have and find a way to support this in a way which is fair for all.”

One aspect of this connection has been an agreement between Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council for access for Waikato residents to access Hamilton City Libraries.

Waikato District Council elected not to renew the $300,000 contract from 30 September 2018, but at Thursday’s meeting offered a reduced amount ($250,000) to re-establish the service.

Hamilton City Council discussed the offer in public-excluded session, resolving to decline the offer but initiate wider cross-boundary discussion with Waikato District Council.

These discussions are aimed at finding an agreed approach by both councils within the wider central Waikato growth context, including cross-boundary shared services (as well as libraries), and a joint approach to planning and managing growth. The resolution also made the decision public.

The resolution echoed two earlier decisions relating to the Waikato Plan and the Greater Hamilton Growth Strategy respectively.

The Council approved Hamilton’s continued participation in the Waikato Plan; a cross-boundary approach to develop regional strategic leadership and direction. Membership includes voting representatives from regional, district and city councils, business and/or community representatives and tangata whenua as well as non-voting members from government agencies such as NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry of Education, as well as the Waikato District Health Board.

The Council also endorsed the preparation of a Greater Hamilton Growth Strategy to support long-term growth in the city. The Strategy will identify land needs for residential and business growth, including areas of land outside the city’s existing boundaries required for future growth. A key part of the Strategy will be to identify how Hamilton can support growth across its boundaries without direct control of the land.

The Strategy will inform wider planning work for the region being done through the government-led Hamilton-Auckland Corridor Plan and a spatial plan under development for an area surrounding Hamilton between Ngaruawahia and Cambridge/Te Awamutu.

© Scoop Media

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