Wellington Breaks Free

Great to see Celia Wade-Brown taking the initiative and showing some leadership on the march towards amalgamation. The Dominion Post reports that:

A push for a 30-member metropolitan council for Wellington has received strong support from city councillors.

At a committee meeting today all but two councillors voted to support a proposal for a single-tier council combining the Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti, Hutt City, Upper Hutt and Greater Wellington councils.

It would have one mayor and 29 councillors representing small wards.

The three Wairarapa councils have already lodged a joint proposal to the Local Government Commission to break away from the Wellington region. Now the Council has completely broken away from the Regional Council-led regional working party and their probable two-tier model. Council also endorsed the Wairarapa’s bid to become a single council. As Eastern Ward councillor Simon Marsh said, now the Commission will have all the options of regional amalgamation in front of them.

I agree with Celia – the Council’s model is a clear and reasonable alternative to the status quo. The alternative two-tier system would be the current Regional Council on steroids, with a bunch of  subordinate local boards servicing the coalface and communities underneath it, much like what is happening in Auckland.

A single-tier council would force councillors to actively engage with and be directly accountable to their wards and constituents – much like (good) electorate MPs are. When was the last time you heard/saw Fran Wilde holding a street corner meeting, or Chris Laidlaw door-knocking?

Interestingly, despite being present earlier in the debate, John Morrison missed the final vote on the proposal. One of his most potent attacks on Celia is that she’s  missing in action during the amalgamation debate. But here she is leading from the front and bringing most of her Councillors with her, and he’s the one missing in action. Could this be a turning point in Celia’s reelection campaign?

With so many options to choose from, how the Local Government Commission ultimately decides will be fascinating. Here’s hoping they pick a logical, reasonable and straightforward model, like what the Council is pushing, in addition to separate, unified Wairarapa Council.

Let us know what you think the comments below.

UPDATE: The Council have posted their report on its website.

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