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Hawke's Bay Reorganisation Application

Decisions of the Commission under clauses 6 and 8 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002 on an application by ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ Trust for reorganisation of local government in Hawke’s Bay

Date: 15 Mar 2013

 

Introduction

1. On 7 February 2013 the Local Government Commission received an application from ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ Trust, under clause 3 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act), for reorganisation of local government in Hawke’s Bay. Specifically the application is for the union of the districts of Wairoa, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay, and the constitution of a new local authority, called Hawke’s Bay Council, which would assume the functions and responsibilities currently held by the existing territorial authorities for these four districts and of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council which would all be abolished.

2. At a meeting on 15 March 2013, the Commission considered this application and made a number of decisions pursuant to Schedule 3 of the Act. The purpose of this document is to set out those decisions and the reasons for them, and to identify the next steps which the Commission must take.

Decisions

3. At its meeting on 15 March 2013, the Commission:

a) agreed that the affected areas in respect of the ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ Trust application are the areas comprising the districts of Wairoa, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay and also those parts of Rangitikei and Taupo Districts currently within Hawke’s Bay Region

b) agreed, under clause 6 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, to assess the application

c) agreed, under clause 8(1) of Schedule 3, that the Commission has sufficient information to be satisfied there is demonstrable community support in the district of each affected territorial authority for local government reorganisation in Hawke’s Bay Region

d) decided, under clause 9, to proceed to publicly notify the application made by ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ Trust and seek alternative applications within 20 working days from the date of the last public notice.

Reasons for the decision

4. The Commission was required under clause 6 of Schedule 3 to consider the application as soon as practicable after receiving it, which was on 7 February 2013, and to decide whether or not to assess the application.

5. Clause 7 sets out the grounds on which the Commission may decline to assess an application. The Commission found that none of these grounds applied in respect of the ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ application.

6. Among other things, the Commission was required to consider information provided demonstrating community support in the district of each affected territorial authority for the application. In order to satisfy itself on this requirement, the Commission needed to determine which were the affected territorial authorities.

7. An affected territorial authority is, under the amended section 5 of the Act, a territorial authority that contains an affected area. An affected area is defined under clause 2 of Schedule 3 and includes an area that would be included in a new or different local authority if the reorganisation were to proceed. On this basis, the Commission agreed that the affected areas included the districts of Wairoa, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke’s Bay and therefore the respective district and city councils were affected territorial authorities.

8. The applicant subsequently advised the Commission that it had not addressed the fact that small parts of Rangitikei and Taupo Districts were currently within Hawke’s Bay Region. The applicant did not have a view as to whether these areas should be included in its proposed new Hawke’s Bay Council.

9. The Commission has now decided that the areas of Rangitikei and Taupo Districts currently within Hawke’s Bay Region are also affected areas being areas that would be included in a new or different local authority if the reorganisation were to proceed. There are two alternatives as to the different local authority these areas would become part of if the application proceeded: either they would be included in the proposed new Hawke’s Bay Council (a territorial authority), or they would remain in their current territorial authority but become part of a new regional council area.

10. Having agreed the affected areas and therefore the affected territorial authorities, the Commission was then in a position to assess whether there was the required information demonstrating community support in the district of each affected territorial authority for the application. For this purpose it considered the following information it had received:

  • a breakdown by residence of the database of 1,000 registered supporters of the ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ initiative which included supporters from all four territorial authority districts fully within Hawke’s Bay Region
  • a list of leaders of a range of regional organisations as well as what were referred to as ‘average’ ratepayers “representing all areas of our region – from Central Hawke’s Bay through Hastings and Napier to Wairoa”
  • the results of a thousand person telephone poll in Hawke’s Bay Region conducted between 7 and 10 February 2013
  • correspondence from other individuals and organisations including one iwi.

11. In respect of the areas of Rangitikei and Taupo Districts currently within Hawke’s Bay Region, the Commission received the following information demonstrating community support for the application:

  • correspondence from the Mayors of the two areas
  • correspondence from individuals.

12. On the basis of the above information, the Commission came to the conclusion that there was sufficient information demonstrating community support for the application from the districts of all the affected territorial authorities. As there were no further grounds to decline to assess the application, the Commission agreed it would assess the application.

13. Prior to proceeding to assess and application, however, the Commission must first be satisfied, under clause 8(1) of Schedule 3, that there is demonstrable community support in the district of each affected territorial authority for local government reorganisation in the affected area. (NB this requirement is different from the community support for the application under clauses 5 and 6 of Schedule 3 referred to above.)

14. At its meeting on 15 March 2013, in addition to deciding whether to assess the application, the Commission also considered whether it had sufficient information to satisfy itself under clause 8(1). It concluded it did have sufficient information. The basis for this decision was the following information that had been received:

  • particular contents of the McGredy Winder & Co. report ‘Future Prosperity of the Hawke’s Bay Region’ dated August 2012
  • responses to a February 2012 ‘BayBuzz’ survey
  • responses from a telephone survey of Napier residents conducted in May 2011
  • responses to the more recent February 2013 telephone survey (referred to above)
  • correspondence from individuals and organisations
  • records of presentations made by the applicant to five different groups in Hawke’s Bay Region
  • responses received by Wairoa District Council from consultation it initiated on local government reform
  • a letter from Hastings District Council supporting a process that enables community discussion on reorganisation options in Hawke’s Bay.

Relevant matters the Commission took into consideration

15. In its considerations relating to community support, the Commission took into account whether community support was demonstrated or was demonstrable in each of the affected areas, and whether the support was demonstrated or demonstrable from organisations and individuals located within the affected areas and/or representing parts of those areas

16. The Commission noted that the evidence demonstrating community support did not need to indicate a particular level or type of support in the affected area, this includes whether there was majority support, as this is not a requirement in the Act.

17. As a result, and being satisfied with the level of information provided, the Commission considered it did not need to undertake any consultation of its own at this stage in the process.

18. As part of its consideration in future as to whether to proceed to issue a draft reorganisation proposal and then a final proposal, the Commission will need to continue to assess levels of community support for local government reorganisation in Hawke’s Bay Region and for particular options that may be identified during the process. At each step in this process the Commission will need to continue to satisfy itself on the existence of demonstrable community support.

Next steps

19. Having agreed to assess the ‘A Better Hawke’s Bay’ application and satisfied itself there is demonstrable community support from the district of each affected territorial authority for local government reorganisation in Hawke’s Bay Region, the Commission must now take further prescribed steps. These steps are as follows:

  • advise the applicant and affected local authorities of the Commission’s decisions under clauses 6 and 8 of Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002
  • advise each local authority that adjoins an affected local authority and any other person, body or group the Commission considers should be notified, of the Commission’s decisions
  • give public notice of:
    • the receipt of the reorganisation application including the type of reorganisation proposed, the local authorities affected and the extent of the affected area
    • where further information about the application can be obtained
    • an invitation for persons, bodies and groups to submit alternative applications in relation to the affected area
    • when alternative applications must be received by and that applications received after this date may be declined.

20.The date by which alternative applications must be received is Friday, 3 May 2013.

15/03/2013