Residents oppose amalgamation: poll

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2014

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A survey of Napier residents shows that 68 per cent oppose the proposed amalgamation with other Hawke's Bay councils.

In the latest Napier City Council-commissioned survey of 450 Napier residents, carried out by the National Research Bureau in June, 95 per cent of people said they were aware of the proposal to amalgamate the five councils.

Sixty-eight per cent opposed amalgamation, 20 per cent supported it and 12 per cent did not know.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said the results showed people in his city had considered the proposal, at present being considered by the Local Government Commission, "and simply reject it".

"Clearly with 68 per cent of Napier residents against the proposal, the Local Government Commission should withdraw their proposal.

"If the National Government, which is driving this process, want to demonstrate they still believe in democracy, they should suspend the process and take another look at the legislation," Dalton said.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the survey results were far from conclusive.

"There is no detailed proposal for anybody to consider, so I place very little weight on the results due to the erroneous campaign that has been run in Napier about debt, representation and potential job losses.

"The final vote on the detailed proposal is the only poll that matters and I continue to be confident, based on the significant number of Napier people who talk to me in favour of change."

Hastings District Council had not polled its residents on the matter. Nor had Central Hawke's Bay District Council, but Wairoa District Council did last year and found 62 per cent opposed to amalgamation and 18 per cent in support.

The other 20 per cent did not know or had no strong feelings.

The Local Government Commission is considering a proposal from A Better Hawke's Bay Trust, which seeks reorganisation of the five councils in the region.

It is expected to issue a final proposal after next month's election.

If it issues a final proposal, residents can seek a poll (vote) if more than 10 per cent of eligible voters in a council area sign a petition.

The poll would be held over the entire region. If a proposal is supported by a poll or there is no poll, the amalgamation would likely proceed.

A bid to amalgamate Napier and Hastings failed in 1999 with 75 per cent of Napier residents voting against it and 64 per cent of Hastings residents voting for it.

At that time the law required more than 50 per cent of the people in each affected district to vote for the amalgamation.

A law change in 2012 meant only 50 per cent of the people across the entire affected area needed to vote for amalgamation in order for it to proceed.

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- The Dominion Post

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