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One Waikato group says ‘No supercity’ for Waikato

News Release

Tuesday 3rd September, 2013

One Waikato group says ‘No supercity’ for Waikato

The One Waikato group standing for Waikato Regional Council says it does not support a ‘supercity’ approach for the Waikato region.

Coromandel-Thames Valley regional councillor and deputy chair, Simon Friar, says the ‘supercity’ approach is not one which would suit the Waikato region.

“Our proposal is to save ratepayers money through much more cooperation and collaboration between the councils of the region, not by amalgamation,” Mr Friar said.

He said that various commentators, including One Waikato’s political opponents, had tried to portray the group as being in favour of a unitary council for the Waikato.

“That is totally wrong – nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “We support retaining local democracy throughout the region.

“In fact we are the only ones proposing a solution to the costs of local government with Councils sharing a wide range of services rather than every council duplicating the services of every other council.

“It is a ridiculous state of affairs that every council in the region has its own IT systems, HR departments, engineers, procurement departments and the like when we could simply all share the same service.”

Mr Friar said that with the 11 city and district councils plus the regional council, millions of dollars of ratepayers money could be saved by the councils working more closely together in this way.

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He said the Mayoral Forum has identified savings of something in excess of $200 million across the region which could be achieved with shared services.

He said the attraction of shared services is that it can be implemented immediately - there is no need for re-structure.

“We believe that local decision making must be retained but we must have more efficient governance. The present system is not efficient - in the main every council is doing its own thing.”

Mr Friar said there are several hundred local authority plans in the region which needs to be streamlined.

“A simple example of this is recent the farce of councils having different rules for election signs. We can't even get that right.”

The One Waikato group is fielding eight candidates for the Waikato Regional Council in this year’s election all of whom support more cooperation between local authorities across the region to achieve saving for ratepayers.

“If we can do things more efficiently and save money by doing so that means we will be better able to provide better value to ratepayers with improved environmental outcomes and a stronger economy,” said Mr Friar.

He said there is a need for local government reform in the Waikato but that it should be done through “evolution not revolution”.

“I believe that there is a need to engage with all the communities of the region and explore the various options for re-structure with them rather than just supporting one particular model that has been foisted on the people of Auckland through legislation.”

Ends

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