Date: 9 April 2014
A range of ideas for the preferred shape of local government in Hawke’s Bay has emerged from the public submission process run by the Local Government Commission.
The Commission has been analysing submissions since the close-off date in March.
The process began in February 2013 after the Commission received an application from A Better Hawke’s Bay Trust seeking reorganisation of the five councils in the region. The Commission undertook an extensive period of consultation involving six visits to Hawke’s Bay and more than forty meetings with affected groups and the public. It also commissioned analysis and research from economists and local government specialists.
In November 2013 the Commission released a draft proposal for reform and called for feedback. It received 732 submissions. The numbers can be broken down as follows:
The Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Donald Riezebos, said a number of common themes arose in submissions. Ideas and questions were raised about the following issues:
“This process has been a valuable way to get feedback on how to improve council structures in Hawke’s Bay. People have a lot of ideas and suggestions for the way local government operates in the region, Mr Riezebos said.
“If there are better ideas for local government arrangements we wanted to hear about them. We were particularly interested in views on the option of community boards versus local boards and our draft proposal explicitly sought feedback on this point,” Mr Riezebos said.
The proposed new model of local government includes a layer of five community boards with 37 elected members. The boards are designed to protect the identities of small communities. Local boards, which have a greater degree of authority than community boards, are also an option for Hawke’s Bay depending on the passage of legislation currently before Parliament.
One council and one mayor, supported by a Maori Advisory Board, would work to advance the interests of the entire region and would provide strategic leadership across Hawke’s Bay as a whole. One council would also address concerns that Hawke’s Bay is being held back by rivalry and a lack of cooperation between existing councils.
1. What is the difference between a community board and a local board?
A local board shares governance with the mayor and councillors of a local authorityand are responsible for non-regulatory matters. They cannot set rates or issue resource consents and building consents.
Local boards administer a budget for their area. They oversee community assets such as libraries, parks, halls and other facilities. They develop and propose bylaws and a triennial plan for their area.
Local boards currently exist only in Auckland. They are also available for a large urban unitary authority with a population of more than 400,000. The Local Government Amendment Bill introduced in 2013 would enable local boards to be established more widely, without the population threshold.
Local boards cannot be abolished by the local authority. They can only be altered by a local government reorganisation scheme.
A community board advocates and represents a community in its dealings with a district or city council. It has powers and functions delegated to it by the council. It has input into some council decisions.
Community boards are a link between the council and the community. Community boards can be established at any time and may be abolished as part of a council’s regular representation review carried out before local authority elections. More than 100 community boards operate in urban and rural areas of territorial authorities. They were created by the local government reforms in 1989.
A community board can make recommendations and submissions on issues such as speed limits and other traffic and roading issues in its area; it can manage community halls and reserves and sports grounds; and help co-ordinate civil defence preparation.
2. What are the next steps?
The Commission will travel to HawkesBay to begin public hearings involving those people who asked to be heard. Approximately 96 people asked to speak to their submissions. It is anticipated the first public hearings will take place in May.
3. What happens at the public hearings?
People are allocated 10 minutes which includes time for questions by the Commissioners. The Commissioners will have the submission in front of them so submitters do not need to read it aloud, but should use the opportunity to elaborate on any points.
The Commission can ask questions of any of the submitters at the hearing, but one submitter cannot cross-examine another.
A person who wishes to present additional papers to the Commission is requested to provide five copies of those papers. Such papers must be in support of the original submission.
Submitters will be called to speak by the Chair of the Commission who may exercise discretion about timing, depending on circumstances on the day.
4. What is the process after the hearings?
After the hearings the Commission may carry out other investigations and inquiries so that it has enough information on which to make a decision.
The Commission has four options:
If it issues a final proposal, residents can seek a poll (vote) if more than ten percent of eligible voters in a council area sign a petition. The poll would be held over the entire region.
If a proposal is supported by a poll or there is no poll, a reorganisation scheme is prepared and implemented by the Minister of Local Government through an Order in Council (no legislation is required).
Guidelines and further background to the reorganisation process can be found at the Local Government Commission website: www.lgc.govt.nz
Chief Executive Officer
Local Government Commission
Phone +64 4 460 2228
The Local Government Commission is an independent body which makes decisions on local authority electoral matters and applications to change boundaries, functions and areas of local authorities. The legislation governing reorganisation of local authorities, Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, can be accessed here.