Commission opts for one plan

Date: 11 Sep 2018

The Local Government Commission has announced today that it is issuing a final proposal for a West Coast combined district plan.

The decision comes after careful consideration of submissions and hearings on the draft proposal, and further information received.

“The Commission has concluded the proposal will promote the purpose of local government by way of achieving a good quality district plan for the West Coast while still allowing for local responsibility for local variations,’’ said Janie Annear, lead Local Government Commissioner for West Coast Reorganisation. “We believe it will also assist improved economic performance on the West Coast.’’

The draft proposal had very positive support in most of the Coast with some opposition in parts, Mrs Annear said.

“We respect the position of all parties, but the Commission has a duty not only to act in the best interests of each district, but also in the interests of the West Coast as a whole.

“The Commission is satisfied the decision meets the legal tests under the Local Government Act, including in relation to necessary community support.’’

Mrs Annear added that an important element of the plan was the flexibility for local variations to recognise particular local features.

“This is a win-win situation. The combined district plan will have the advantages and efficiencies of scale and shared resources but also allows for expression of local differences where these can be justified on resource management grounds.’’

She acknowledged that the process had taken a long time but that it had been important to get it right for the West Coast.

“I would like to acknowledge the contributions of all those people who have made an input into the process, and particularly the four councils, and thank West Coasters for their patience during this lengthy process,’’ Mrs Annear said.

Details of the final combined district plan proposal

West Coast District Plan Committee

  • Will comprise mayor/regional chair and one councillor from each council, two iwi representatives and an independent chair (as recommended by the transition board)
  • Will have power to act to prepare and adopt a combined West Coast district plan in accordance with the Resource Management Act
  • Will remain in place to manage future plan changes, but the district councils will be responsible for plan changes on local variations
  • Administration of the new combined district plan once adopted, will be the responsibility of each district council as at present

Technical Advisory Team

  • Will provide technical advice and support to West Coast District Plan Committee
  • Will have a membership agreed by the parties

Funding

  • West Coast Regional Council will be responsible for funding district plan development
  • Individual district councils will be responsible for funding future plan changes involving local variations in their district

Transition board

  • Will have the same membership as the West Coast District Plan Committee with an independent chairperson (LGC will now consult councils on this appointment)
  • Will agree all necessary matters to enable the committee to meet and begin its work as soon as possible e.g. meeting procedures and support arrangements

Implementation team

  • Will provide support to the transition board and implement its decisions
  • Will have a membership agreed by the parties including a team leader/project manager (LGC will consider providing funding for this position)

Next steps

  • An Order in Council is now being prepared to give effect to the final proposal i.e. there is no provision for a poll
  • Once the Order in Council is signed (around mid-October) and the members of the transition board have been appointed (including independent chairperson), the transition board will be able to meet
  • One of the first items for the transition board will be to agree the make-up of the implementation team including appointment of team manager/project leader
  • It is hoped the transition process can be completed before the end of 2018

Brief history of the application

  • In August 2015 the Local Government Commission agreed to assess a reorganisation application seeking change to local government arrangements on the West Coast.
  • The application was lodged by Anthea Keenan and Peter Salter and was supported by a petition with 367 signatures, with significant numbers from each of the three West Coast districts.
  • In March 2016, separate to but alongside progressing the reorganisation application, the Commission and the West Coast councils signed a relationship agreement to collaborate on regional efficiency initiatives with two initiatives identified as initial priorities: roading arrangements and resource management planning services.
  • Between the end of May and early July 2016, the Commission ran an extensive community engagement programme on the West Coast to gauge levels of community support for change in local government arrangements.
  • In August 2016, the Commission agreed there was sufficient evidence to be satisfied there was demonstrable support in the three districts for some form of change.
  • In February 2017, the Commission invited alternative reorganisation applications and other proposals for change, and received 23 responses including 19 proposing some form of structural reorganisation or shared service arrangement.
  • Between February and September 2017, the Commission carried out detailed communities of interest work and commissioned a consultant’s report into financial and operational aspects of possible reorganisation options.
  • In October 2017, a UMR Research survey was conducted on the West Coast to gain an updated picture of support for change and particular change options.
  • In November 2017, the Commission agreed its preferred option for the West Coast was the combined district plan option and in April 2018 released its draft proposal calling for submissions.
  • Submissions closed on 25 May 2018 and a total of 38 written submissions were received. In addition, 25 responses to the draft proposal were received online via ‘survey monkey’. After setting aside those responses from people or organisations who also made detailed written submissions and a few duplicates, 19 responses were analysed in terms of support or opposition to the draft proposal.
  • On 30 and 31 May 2018, the Commission conducted hearings in Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika for those submitters who wanted to be heard by the Commission.
  • Between 15 and 19 June 2018, UMR Research undertook a survey of the West Coast community specifically on levels of support/opposition for the draft proposal of a combined West Coast district plan.
  • On 30 August 2018, the Commission carefully considered all the responses it had received to the draft West Coast proposal and other related information, and subsequently resolved to issue the draft proposal as a final proposal.

 See: Final proposal for a West Coast combined district plan