Regional Council chair Fran Wilde
The Wellington Regional Council has today voted in favour of lodging an application for a single council with local boards for the whole of the Wellington region.
The application is expected to be made to the Local Government Commission later this month, and will recommend the creation of a new Wellington Council to replace the nine existing councils.
Although the three Wairarapa councils have applied to the Commission to become a unitary authority, the Regional Council will include Wairarapa in its application for a single council because it considers that Wairarapa is an integral part of the wider Wellington region and its future prosperity is fundamentally linked.
Regional Council Chair, Fran Wilde, says Wellington needs to look at its future from a regional perspective but must also clearly identify its aims and aspirations within a national context.
"We need to embrace the positive attributes and benefits that this region has, but also recognise that we can't afford to take things for granted," she says.
"Wellington has challenges ahead – economically, socially and environmentally – and they affect all of us. We need to address the big issues like transport, infrastructure and economic growth head on, but must also ensure that at a local level, our communities are able to resolve their own community issues."
The application from the Regional Council will support a single two tier council model, comprising a governing body of 22 members and eight local boards, each with up to nine members.
"We need a paradigm shift. This is an opportunity to create a new engagement model with our communities," Ms Wilde says.
"Our application to the Commission is based on the principle that everything is local unless there is a need for it to be determined regionally.
"Local Boards would represent their local community and make decisions on local issues, activities and facilities. Local boards would provide important local input into region-wide policies and would be funded through the annual planning process.
"This means that the region-wide governing body would be able to focus on the big strategic issues, regional-scale infrastructure and services, as well as providing regional leadership and representation."
Ms Wilde stressed that the final form of any proposal for Wellington would be determined by the Local Government Commission and that the community would have a chance to comment on a draft as well as voting on a final proposal.
Wellington Regional Council's decision was informed by the work conducted during May by the four council Working Party on Local Government Reform and took into consideration the results of public consultation on two change models (one council with a single tier of decision making, and one council with two tiers of decision making – governing council and local boards).
At the council meeting today, 15 members of the public were heard prior to Council debate. Of the 15, two presented a petition from Hutt residents requesting the status quo be maintained. The remainder supported Council's application for a single council with two tiers.
The application to the Local Government Commission will include a number of supporting documents.