600 Submissions So Far on Local Governance

18 June 2012

Just over 600 submissions have been received so far from Wellingtonians wanting to have their say on options for the possible future shape of local government in the region.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown is very pleased with the level of response so far but is urging Wellingtonians to have their say before 29 June - when the submissions period closes.

"The debate over local-body reform is hugely important - but it has to be said it's not something that most people have at the top of their minds. So it's really impressive that so many people have made the effort to make a submission already."

Submissions are being sought by Wellington City Council on four governance options for Wellington City and the region - ranging from the 'status quo' with more regionally-shared council services, to a two-council and three-council proposal - to a single 'super city'-style council for the whole region including the Wairarapa, with subsidiary local boards.

Mayor Wade-Brown says Wellingtonians are also urged to come up with their own ideas. "There are probably dozens of possible options, each with advantages and disadvantages, none perfect.

"So far the results show a relatively even split between those who want the current model of representation and those who favour more shared services, and those who advocate a degree of amalgamation," says Mayor Wade-Brown.

The City Council's Engagement Portfolio Leader, Councillor Paul Eagle, says the opinions expressed in the submissions will be analysed in July. He encourages all people to have their say.

"We want to hear from all sectors of the community about this incredibly important debate for Wellington - even from Aucklanders about how amalgamation has affected them. My Council colleagues and I will be out and about at the public meetings and debates on local government so come up and let us know what you think."

The eight local councils in the region have also agreed to jointly engage Colmar Brunton to survey about 3,400 residents across the region in July, based on the governance options. The results of the survey will be available in early August, and will inform the councils' views on the next steps in the process.

Four Options to Encourage Debate

The four options proposed by the City Council to encourage debate are:

Option 1 - all existing councils remain the same - but changing the way we work with other councils to deliver the services you use. 

Option 2 - merge the nine existing councils into three bigger councils:

  • Wellington Capital and Coast Council - combining Wellington City, Porirua City and Kapiti Coast District
  • Hutt Valley Council - combining Hutt and Upper Hutt cities
  • Wairarapa Council - combining the three councils in the Wairarapa.

Greater Wellington Regional Council would be abolished.

Option 3 - merge all existing councils into two big councils:

  • Wellington Council - combining Wellington City, Porirua, Hutt and Upper Hutt cities, and Kapiti Coast District
  • Wairarapa Council - combining the three councils in the Wairarapa.

Again, the regional council would be abolished.    

Option 4 - merge all existing councils into one council for the whole region, with 10 local boards elected to look after 'local' services. As with the new Auckland Council, this new single council would be the only entity that could set and collect rates, and would make the major decisions for the entire region.

Depending on feedback received during the consultation period and more detailed analysis of the options, by August the Council will have three broad choices about what to do next:

  • Do nothing - if the feedback is clear that there is little appetite for structural change, the Council could decide no further action is required for now; OR
  • Identify a preferred option/s and consult once more with the public on that specific proposal/s; OR
  • Identify a preferred option and submit that to the Local Government Commission. That would not be the end of public consultation - the Local Government Commission is required to consult with the public itself on any proposed changes.

Here's how Wellingtonians can make submissions:

  • Fill in the submission form at Public Input - Local Government Reform Options
  • Get a copy of the Local Government Reform in Wellington booklet from city libraries, from the City Council service centre at 101 Wakefield Street, or by calling the Council on 499 4444 and asking for a copy to be sent to you. The booklet contains a Freepost submission form - you won't need a postage stamp
  • Email your views to reform@wcc.govt.nz
  • Write to us at Wellington City Council, PO Box 2199, 101 Wakefield Street, Wellington City - Attention: Elise Webster
  • There will also be an opportunity for submitters to have their say to Councillors in person.