Celia out of step with what Wellingtonians want?

From the outset Celia Wade Brown has been against the idea of amalgamation and from all accounts had to be dragged to the Regional Working Party by her Council. Celia knows she wouldn’t survive a super-council mayoral election but has always said that her opposition was because the ‘people’ did not want it.

She has effectively worked in parallel to the Working Party by trying to team up with the self-interested Hutt Mayors to push a bunch of unitary authorities/fiefdoms for the region (which the new legislation almost prohibits).

Well news flash – the people do want change.

We have seen a poll commissioned by the WCC which says most Wellingtonians unambiguously want  change in our region.

The Colmar Brunton Poll of 500 Wellingtonians shows that 52 per cent want change to the structure of local governance in the region, 33 per cent said they did not know, and only 15 per cent supported the status quo.

However, it is less clear what shape that amalgamated authority should take. 43 per cent of respondents said they preferred a single-tier authority (without Auckland styled community boards) while 37 per cent said they would prefer a two-tier structure.

What this poll tells us is that the voting public have largely shifted from whether or not amalgamation and reform should happen to what shape the new body should take. This is clearly out of step with where our Mayor has been on this issue.

Clearly the people want change and as the heart of this region, WCC should be taking a leadership role in shaping that vision and delivering the structures that people want. I think we have had enough of the egos, self-interest and job-protectionism that has slowed this debate and its time to say that a key function of the new council will be to transition effectively to a new model.

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4 responses to “Celia out of step with what Wellingtonians want?

  1. Yes, indoubtedly Wellingtonians want change. And they are right. We continually need to be looking at ways in which we can improve how we govern, administer and provide community facilities and services. The community needs confidence that councils are as effective and efficient as possible in what they do.

    But for all the people who want change how many will plumb for a supercity when they are polled next year? My view is that this will be less than 50% for the simple reason that while many of us want change the majority of people don’t want the more extreme position of a single council to rule us all.

    Unfortunately a supercity is all that is on offer from the “consultation” recently undertaken by some councils. In a game of smoke and mirrors these councils, led by Fran Wilde, have sought to manipulate the debate to being about just two options – a single tier super city or a two tier super city!

    Wellingtonians deserve a more sophisticated and fulsome debate on the options for change. We don’t deserve to be railroaded into reform that will effectively take the “local” out of local government.

    • Daran, keen to hear what other options and structures you think the region should consider and what you think would be the best approach.

  2. Alternatives to a super city spanning both sides of the Rimutakas include:

    A. Stronger focus on collaboration and co-operation between existing local authorities – single rates collection and processing; coordinated back office functions; combined library facilities; vertically integrated water supply etc
    B. Reallocationof functions between local authorities – e.g all transport and water supply to Regional Council; WCC share of Wellington Airport to Regional Council; parks to local Councils; economic development to Regional Council etc;
    C. All Wairarapa councils as a single territorial authority.
    D. Various options for amalgamation on the western side of the Rimutakas including 2 unitary authorities or larger territorial authorities with Regional Council still in place.

    There are many other alternatives. All options have their pluses and minuses.

    Unfortunately Wellington communities have not been adequately canvassed about alternatives. Rather, the Regional Council, has preferred to stand behind other bodies to undertake limited information provision and consultation. In the latest consultation the majority of Regional Councillors agreed to restrict submission choices to two supercity options. Clearly borrowing from NZTA’sconsultation manual. So no choice there then!

    To add to that council officers then took it upon themselves to change the questionnaires, not once, but twice, during the course of the submission period.

    At best the process of engaging with our communities has been rushed and heavily contrived to the point that no reliability can be placed on the recent submission process at all.

    And guess what? Wellingtonians know when they are being hoodwinked. All they ask for is open, transparent and respectful enagement.

    Funny thing is, that I can actually see benefits in a limited supercity model…. but not at the expense of poor process that will leave a sour taste for all concerned.

  3. Pingback: Time to get on with it? | WCC Watch·

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