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Unified local government the way to go, says Chamber

4 December 2014

Unified local government the way to go, says Chamber

The Local Government Commission is to be applauded for its draft finding that one unified council is the best way forward for the Wellington region, says the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.

“This is the first big, positive step to putting the Wellington region on the path to an exciting economic future,” says President John Milford.

“The case for change was clearly made and to this point the commission agrees that that is the right way to go.

“We’re pleased that one council, the Greater Wellington Council, is proposed to take over the functions of the nine existing councils.

“Business has been asking for a reduction in duplication, the benefits of bringing to scale, a change in culture from within council, efficiency and cost reductions.

“The Chamber’s surveys over many years have consistently shown around 70% support for some form of amalgamation.

“We are intrigued by the proposal that the council would have a shared decision-making structure between the governing body and each of the local boards.

“This is shared leadership like we haven’t seen before. It’s been designed distinctively for Wellington and should end the arguments of those who believe local leadership would be compromised under any unitary plan.

“We are the first to say that the proposed structure is not a silver bullet that will cure the region’s ills.

“No one can guarantee that a unified council will solve all our problems but it will go a long way towards ensuring we are strong economically and make the best use of resources.

“We are convinced that it will make a big difference and open up opportunities we have not seen previously in this region.

“The region is not currently delivering economically - we should be performing much better than we are, and the performance of local government impacts directly on that.

“A recent report from BERL shows that in the ten years to 2013 the Wellington region performed worse than the national economy on key indicators and just better on one. We’re home to 11 per cent of New Zealand’s population. Yet our GDP growth has been just 1.5% compared to the national average of 2.1%.

“If we are to turn that around we need to work across the region to do it.

“The proposals have been a long time coming and it’s now time to move the debate forward and let the public have their say. We will be consulting our members on the details aspects of what’s outlined in the report.

“All going well we could have a unified council in just under two years. That’s a very exciting prospect.”

ENDS

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