Local Government Commission - Update 15 December 2014
Greetings and welcome to the latest Local Government Commission newsletter. The newsletter provides information about the work of the Commission and aims to contribute to discussion of local government structures and good practice generally.
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The Commission has made significant progress on the applications to change council structures in the Hawke’s Bay and Wellington regions.
On 17 November the Commission released a position paper about the reorganisation proposal affecting five Hawke’s Bay councils.
The position paper explained how the proposed unitary authority for Hawke’s Bay could change if the Commission decides to proceed through further stages. The suggested changes include:
the number of proposed councillors doubles from nine to eighteen
local boards, rather than community boards, would be created
small areas of Rangitikei and Taupo districts remain excluded from the region, but their regional council functions would be provided by the new Hawke’s Bay Council.
The Commission reserved its position on the ring-fencing of existing council debt, pending further information and analysis. It asked councils for an update of both existing financial arrangements and future infrastructure and asset investment requirements. The Commission anticipates providing its assessment of this information in February 2015.
On 4 December the Commissioners hosted two briefings at Te Papa in the Capital to announce their decisions on the reorganisation of nine councils in the Wellington region.
After a morning briefing for stakeholders, including mayors, councillors, community board members, council senior management, Members of Parliament, iwi, and alternative applicants, the Commissioners held a separate media briefing.
The draft proposal for a Greater Wellington Council with eight local boards followed almost eighteen months of consultation, analysis and research. The decisions are explained in three volumes: Volume 1 provides an overview in a short, summary format; Volume 2 contains the technical analysis and evaluation of all the options; while Volume 3 has been produced as an online-only document, which itemises some of the external research and reports considered by the Commission.
Public submissions are now called for, with a deadline of 2 March 2015. A suggested form for submissions is available on the Commission website.
The Process For A Referendum
The release of the Wellington draft proposal prompted some discussion by media and interested parties about the process and timing for a referendum on council reorganisation.
The Commission issued a media statement explaining the legislative framework for such polls. A petition seeking a referendum may only be started after the release of a final proposal.
The Local Government Act 2002 makes it clear that any signatures gathered before the release of a final proposal cannot be included on a petition seeking a poll.
Representation Review Guidelines
On 20 November the New Zealand Gazette published a notice which formally confirmed the new guidelines for local authorities carrying out Representation Reviews.
The guidelines are the fifth edition produced by the Commission and may be downloaded from the Commission website, along with a diagram explaining the timelines for such reviews.
New Chief Executive Officer Confirmed
In November the Commission welcomed Sandra Preston as its new Chief Executive Officer. Sandra has an extensive background in public sector policy and management. She was recently a Private Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Hon Judith Collins. She previously held policy and management roles in the Office of Treaty Settlements and Housing New Zealand, and was the Director of the Foreshore and Seabed Unit.
As this is the last newsletter for 2014, the Commissioners and staff extend Season’s Greetings to all readers and their families, and offer best wishes for the New Year. The role played by councils during community events at Christmastime is also remembered during this year’s centenary of World War One, as shown by this story from The Dominion newspaper one hundred years ago.
The Commission offices will be closed from 25 December to 4 January 2015.
Local Government Commission Mana Kāwanatanga Ā Rohe PO Box 5362 Wellington 6145 New Zealand Phone: +64 4 4602228 Fax: +64 4 4940501 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.lgc.govt.nz