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West Coast - Alternative reorganisation applications and other proposals for change

The Commission’s call for alternative reorganisation applications or other proposals for change to West Coast local government arrangements closed on 15 March 2017. The Commission received 23 responses, 19 of which made specific proposals for change. These fall into two broad categories: Proposals for structural reorganisation, and proposals for some form of shared service. These can be read below.

Proposals for structural reorganisation:

1. Michael Sexton (PDF, 136KB)
2. Keith Morfett (PDF, 221KB)
3. Terry Archer (PDF, 238KB)
4. Paul Maunder (PDF, 202KB)
5. Mike Rogers (PDF, 207KB)
6. Charlotte May (PDF, 560KB)
7. Charles Bruning (PDF, 405KB)
8. A. Kremer (PDF, 421KB)
9. Deborah Hogan (PDF, 708KB)
10. John Currie (PDF, 249KB)
11. Allan Birchfield (PDF, 131KB)
12. James Russell (PDF, 1.1MB)
13. Allan Gibson (PDF, 72KB)
14. Les Mathieson & Colin Pattison (PDF, 985KB)

Proposals for some form of shared service:

15. Joanne Howard (PDF, 577KB)
16. Anthony Black (PDF, 100KB)
17. West Coast councils (PDF, 852KB)
18. Barbara Holland (PDF, 184KB)
19. Allen Morris (PDF, 1.5MB)

Or download the complete document below:

Invitation for alternative reorganisation applications and other proposals for change to West Coast local government arrangements: supporting information

On 1 February 2017 the Local Government Commission released a public notice inviting alternative applications or other more general proposals for change to local government arrangements on the West Coast: Public Notice (PDF, 627KB) 

This document is designed to assist those interested in West Coast local government to consider potential options and to submit their own alternative reorganisation application or other proposal.

If you are interested in this process you should feel free to submit any alternative application or other proposal you consider has merit by 15 March 2017.

Background

In June 2015 the Commission received a local government reorganisation application for the West Coast from two West Coast residents. The application relates to all the West Coast.

Before progressing the application, the Commission had to be satisfied there was “demonstrable community support” for reorganisation in the three districts making up the West Coast: Buller, Grey and Westland.

The Commission ran a community engagement programme on the West Coast in June and early July 2016 to find out what the community thought. In August 2016 the Commission decided it was satisfied there was demonstrable community support across the West Coast and that it would progress the application: West Coast Local Government Arrangements: Summary of Community Feedback (PDF, 1MB)

The next step is for the Commission to invite alternative applications to the original reorganisation application it received for change to local government arrangements on the West Coast.

Original reorganisation application

The original reorganisation application seeks a “more collaborative and efficient administration body”, “one team of highly skilled and efficient management”, and “good local governance of the region, one Mayor, one CEO, less councillors…” The applicants requested a “simplified and unified council administration system that could be put in place to reduce costs, sustain rates and or to maintain required infrastructure and necessary services’’ on the West Coast: Original West Coast reorganisation application (PDF, 5.4MB)

The Commission has determined that this application is proposing a unitary authority for the West Coast: that is, a single council for all of the West Coast undertaking both regional council and district council functions. These functions are currently undertaken by the:  Buller District Council, Grey District Council, Westland District Council and West Coast Regional Council.

The affected area for the application is all the area governed by the West Coast Regional Council which includes the three districts making up the West Coast Region: Buller, Grey and Westland.

The Commission is now inviting alternative applications to this original application.

Types of alternative reorganisation applications/other proposals for change

On the basis of the Commission’s community engagement to date, as well as the work it is doing with the West Coast Mayors and Chair Forum on a regional efficiency programme (preliminary work on a range of potential options for joint Resource Management Act functions and regional transport arrangements), three broad types of change options for the West Coast have emerged so far.

These three categories are identified here to assist people consider and make their own alternative application or other proposal for change. Alternative applications or other proposals do not have to fall under these categories.

Suggested types of change are:

  1. structural changes such as the amalgamation of certain councils or the alteration of boundaries between councils
  2. the transfer of statutory obligations from one council to another, such as responsibility for building control or public health activities
  3. existing councils sharing the delivery of particular services.

Examples of possible structural changes

The Commission determined that the original reorganisation application proposed a structural change under section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002 i.e. the amalgamation of the existing four councils into one unitary authority. Other examples of structural change include combining all three district councils while leaving the West Coast Regional Council in place, or combining two of the councils. Other possible structural changes could be to alter the boundaries of one or more districts to move certain areas from one district to another.

Examples of possible transfer of statutory obligations

Another type of reorganisation change under section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002 that has emerged is to keep existing council structures in place but to transfer the responsibility for carrying out certain statutory obligations between councils. A statutory obligation is a function that by law a council must do. For example, responsibility for carrying out resource management planning (preparation of plans, and consenting and monitoring activities), making certain building consent decisions, or the carrying out of inspections to identify nuisances or conditions injurious to public health could be transferred from one district council to another, or from all three district councils to the regional council.

Examples of possible shared service delivery

A further type of change talked about by some people is for the existing councils to agree to share the delivery of some services. Examples of such arrangements include shared roading services, refuse collection, or library services. Shared service arrangements could also include organisational or “in-house” services which councils need to provide, such as information technology (computers) or human resources (e.g. payroll) services. The councils currently do share some services but you may consider they could do more in this area.

While shared service arrangements on their own would not amount to local government reorganisation under section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002, the Commission would still like to hear peoples’ ideas and views on this type of change on the West Coast.

Other options

The examples set out above are intended as a guide only. They have been developed from the Commission’s community engagement to date as well as the work it is doing with the West Coast Mayors and Chair Forum. The Commission has not formed any views at this stage on the merits of any particular type of change or specific option – including the status quo – for the future of local government on the West Coast.

Next steps

Once the Commission has received alternative reorganisation applications and other proposals for change for the West Coast, it will then identify what are seen as the “reasonably practicable options”. These options may include the original reorganisation application, all or any of the alternative applications, any combination of the original and alternative applications, or any variants or further options the Commission may identify itself. By law, the reasonably practicable options must also include current local government arrangements i.e. no change. Options must meet certain legislative criteria before they can be considered “reasonably practicable”.

The Commission will then identify its “preferred option” for the West Coast. If the Commission’s preferred option is not the “no change” option, it would prepare a draft reorganisation proposal and present this to the West Coast community for consultation.

If the Commission were to decide on the “no change” option in relation to reorganisation it would end its process there. However, at this stage the Commission could recommend to the West Coast councils that they consider other forms of change such as more shared services.

Important questions

Question 1: What is an alternative application?

Answer: An “alternative application” is a term used in Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002 to mean other suggestions anyone has for “local government reorganisation”; that is changing local government arrangements, in this case for the West Coast. The proposed changes may relate to all or some parts of the West Coast area.

As described above, an alternative application can propose structural changes such as the amalgamation of certain councils or the alteration of certain boundaries between councils. An alternative application can also propose the transfer of certain statutory obligations from one council to another such as responsibility for aspects of building control or certain public health activities.

Question 2: What must alternative applications include?

Answer: Alternative applications must include:

  • the name and address of the applicant
  • a description of the type of local government change or changes proposed, including (but not limited to):
    • which of the matters listed in section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002 is being sought (see below for the matters listed in section 24)
    • a map or other description to identify the affected area
  • a detailed explanation of what the changes are seeking to achieve and how the changes would be achieved by the approach proposed
  • a description of the potential improvements that would result from the changes and how they would promote good local government.

The matters listed in section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002 are the:

  • union of district or regions
  • constitution of a new district or region, including the constitution of a new local authority for that new district or region
  • abolition of a district or region, including the dissolution or abolition of the local authority for that district or region
  • alteration of the boundaries of any district or region
  • transfer of a statutory obligation from one local authority to another
  • assumption by a territorial authority of the powers of a regional council.

In some cases, alternative applications will be required to include further information, e.g. indications of community support if the area extends beyond the West Coast affected area. An alternative application may also include other information the applicant thinks might be relevant to their application.

The above requirements for alternative applications are set out in clause 5 of Schedule 3 and section 24 of the Local Government Act 2002.

Question 3: Do other proposals that are not alternative applications have to meet any particular requirements?

Answer: No.

Question 4: Who can make an alternative application or other proposal?

Answer: Anyone may submit an alternative application or other proposal – including individual members of the public, community groups, businesses and organisations.

Question 5: Should I put in an alternative application?

Answer: The Commission puts high value on public input into local government arrangements. Local government impacts significantly on peoples’ daily lives including maintaining your local roads, having your rubbish collected and getting a building consent to build or alter your house.

The Commission wants to hear from all interested people about their wishes for local government arrangements on the West Coast. This may be in the form of an alternative reorganisation application or a proposal for some other sort of change such as more shared services between the existing councils. Ultimately the choice of whether you make an alternative application or submit another more general proposal is up to you.

If you do wish to participate you can write or email to us in a form that suits you.

Question 6: What is the deadline for alternative applications and other proposals?

Answer: 15 March 2017. Alternative applications and other proposals received after this date may not be considered by the Commission.

Question 7: What happens after 15 March 2017?

Answer: The Commission will consider all responses to the invitation for alternative applications and other proposals in deciding what are the “reasonably practicable options”.

These options may include the original reorganisation application, all or any of the alternative applications, any combination of the original and alternative applications, or any further option or options the Commission may identify itself. Options identified by the Commission may also include ideas identified in the other proposals it receives.

The reasonably practicable options must include existing local government arrangements i.e. “no change” (retaining West Coast Regional Council and the Buller, Grey and Westland district councils under current boundaries).

Options must meet certain legislative criteria before they can be considered to be “reasonably practicable”.

Question 8: What are the criteria for “reasonably practicable options”?

Answer: To be a “reasonably practicable option”, the Commission must be satisfied that:

  • a new or changed council will have the resources to carry out its responsibilities effectively
    • a new or changed district or region will be appropriate for the efficient performance of the local authority’s responsibilities
    • a new or changed district or region will contain distinct communities of interest
    • flooding and water management issues will be able to be effectively dealt with (if the option includes the regional council’s role).

Question 9: How does the Commission make its final decision on a “preferred option”?

Answer: If there is more than one “reasonably practicable option”, the Commission must then choose its “preferred option”. In addition to meeting requirements for “reasonably practicable options”, the Commission must take into account the following further matters:

  • which option will best promote “good local government” which includes:
    • enabling democratic local decision-making
    • providing good quality infrastructure, services and regulatory performance
  • which option will facilitate improved economic performance which may include:
    • efficiencies and cost savings
    • productivity improvements
    • simplified planning processes.

Question 10: Is this my last chance to be heard?

Answer: No. If the Commission’s “preferred option’’ is for any form of change, it would then prepare a draft reorganisation proposal and present this to the West Coast community for consultation. 

Question 11: Is change inevitable?

Answer: No. The Commission by law must consider the status quo or “no change” as an option. If the Commission proposes change by issuing a final proposal, following its draft proposal, the West Coast community would then have the opportunity to demand that a poll of all West Coast electors is held on whether the change should occur. Any such poll would be the final decision on whether the change does occur.