Local Kapiti businessman, Guy Weaver, thanks Fran Wilde for a most informative address.
Chair of the Wellington Regional Council Hon. Fran Wilde addressed the Kapiti Rotary Club last week.
Ms Wilde presented her views on the likely future of local bodies in the Greater Wellington area.
"We need to face some obvious facts regarding the future of local government in our area" said Ms Wilde. "Auckland is the largest and most progressive city, carrying the banner as New Zealand's international gateway, and growing exponentially. Christchurch will ultimately thrive due to the thirty plus billion dollars that will be injected there following their earthquake tragedies. Wellington is a lovely region comprising approximately 500,000 citizens, that desperately needs to create immediate regional strategies and long-term decisions, which will generate efficiencies through the sharing of resources. We are languishing because of the loss of public service jobs, and with little effort going into the creation of job opportunities to compensate", she said.
"An independent panel, led by Sir Geoffrey Palmer is currently investigating the possibility of combining all councils in the Wellington and Wairarapa areas, and with the view to forming a 'super city' as the single governing body. Legislation is now before parliament that will simplify this process. There is a distinct possibility of having all matters determined for the next triennium elections, but if not, there is a legal provision to defer the election for a few months until all aspects of the case are determined".
During question time, several Rotarians made pertinent observations, one of which related to how amalgamation would affect ratepayers at large. In reply, Ms Wilde pointed out that over the past few years, her Regional Council had been trying to gain cooperation amongst local bodies to share resources, but this had largely failed. "Water catchment and reticulation is a typical example of just how we can rationalise for economy of scale. Additionally, staff duplications that currently exist, would undoubtedly enable large savings to be made. The Wellington Region has eight local bodies, each with its own CEO and Council. The Auckland Region, with three times the population, now has one council, with a number of community boards focussing on local matters. As with the Auckland super-city example, the proposed new authority would probably begin with a clean sheet of paper, as to the management requirements going forward. Bold leadership will be essential for the future well-being and success of the region."
In conclusion, Ms Wilde made the point about the amalgamation debate – "far better to hang together, rather than hang separately"!
Story and Photo by Graeme Barrell