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Local Government Bill changes will ease concerns

Local Government Bill changes will ease concerns

Local Government Minister Chris Carter has welcomed changes to the Local Government Bill recommended by Parliament's local government and environment select committee today.

"After considering almost 400 submissions over the past year, the committee has streamlined and improved the effectiveness of the Bill's enhanced consultation requirements," Mr Carter said.

"I believe it is important we find a balance between improving the opportunity for local people to have a say in the decisions of their local council under the Bill, and minimising the costs to councils. The select committee's refinements achieve this," Mr Carter said.

"It is an example of government consulting, listening and taking on board good ideas that result in better legislation."

Several other significant changes to the Bill had been proposed since it was introduced, he said.

Non-resident ratepayer franchise would now be allowed under the Bill. That meant bach owners or anyone who lived outside an area in which they paid rates, could vote in that area's council elections.

"This will be warmly welcomed by business and ratepayer groups and Local Government New Zealand," Mr Carter said.

Another important change was the inclusion of a five-year review of the impact of the Bill.

"This will enable us to iron out any wrinkles in the implementation of the legislation," Mr Carter said.

"I am confident that the Bill will empower local people and business, and remove some of the frustrations councils currently face in operating under a contradictory and outdated law."

He said the new Bill should be passed by Christmas.

A summary of changes would be available shortly on the Department of Internal Affairs' website, www.dia.govt.nz

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