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Engaging with communities

Engaging with communities

The Local Government Commission has made decisions on the next steps for three local government reorganisation proposals.

The Commission has decided not to proceed with its draft proposals for single councils in Northland and Wellington. Instead the Commission will return to those communities to work with them and seek to develop other options to address the challenges those regions face. The Commission has issued a final proposal for reorganising Hawke’s Bay’s local government.

“Different regions have different challenges and may require different responses to those challenges,’’ said Commission Chair Basil Morrison. “All three communities have indicated some change in local government is needed to ensure regions can be more effective and efficient and make decisions about what will be needed in future.

“We believe in Hawke’s Bay there is community support for reorganising local government, that the final proposal will promote good local government, and is in the region’s best interests.’’

Local Government Commission chief executive Sandra Preston said there was little support for the major structural option proposed for Wellington but there was a widespread mood for some form of change. In Northland the councils had also made progress in identifying alternative ways to provide good local government since the draft proposal was released and the Commission hopes to work with the community in building on that momentum.

The Commission looks forward to collaborating and engaging with councils and communities in Northland and Wellington.

“There needs to be more emphasis on the role of communities identifying the challenges they face, the options that can address those challenges, and the development of more consensus on their preferred approach to change,’’ said Ms Preston. “Our goal will be to assist both communities to reach sufficient consensus on the changes required and the best form of local government.’’

As required under the Local Government Act, if this process results in new options for reform with community support the Commission would then prepare new draft proposals for wider consultation in Wellington and Northland.

Ms Preston will be meeting shortly with key local government stakeholders in these regions.

Background
In summary, the process for local government reorganisations under the Local Government Act 2002 is:

• Individuals, organisations or the Minister of Local Government can apply to the Commission for reorganisation of local government

• The Commission assesses whether there is evidence of community support for local government reorganisation

• If accepted, there is public notification of the application, including a call for alternative applications

• The Commission identifies options for change, chooses a preferred option and develops a draft proposal

• The draft proposal is subject to consultation including submissions and a series of hearings

• If the Commission decides to proceed it issues a final proposal. Otherwise it can choose to end the process, or identify a new draft proposal for consultation

• If requested by the community a poll on the final proposal is held

• If no poll is requested or the poll shows support for the proposal the reorganisation scheme is implemented

The Local Government Commission has been considering three local government applications under the Local Government Act 2002. In Hawke’s Bay the application was from a local stakeholder group, A Better Hawkes Bay. In Northland, the application was from the Far North District Council and in Wellington the Commission was asked to consider two applications: the first from the three Wairarapa Councils seeking to amalgamate and establish a unitary authority, and the second, wider, application from the Wellington Regional Council seeking a Single Unitary Authority for the whole region. The Commission prepared draft proposals for reorganisation in each region, received submissions on the proposals and held hearings in each region. A Final Proposal has now been issued in Hawke’s Bay.

The Commission’s ability to return to communities after submissions and hearings and seek other options for change is provided for in clause 21 in schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002.

Further information:

• Questions and answers on Wellington and Northland can be found here: www.lgc.govt.nz

• A summary of submissions on the Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Wellington can be found here: www.lgc.govt.nz

• A summary of submissions on the Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Northland can be found here: www.lgc.govt.nz

• A media release, “Hawke’s Bay amalgamation proposal to proceed’’, can be found here: www.lgc.govt.nz

• The Hawke’s Bay reorganisation Final Proposal can be found here: www.lgc.govt.nz

ENDS

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