Extra seats may sweeten super-city proposal

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 07:36 11/12/2012
wellington
FAIRFAX NZ

CLEAR VIEW: A regional working party will attempt to formulate a united vision for a Great Wellington Council.

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Placing a few extra seats around the super-city table for Upper Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti and Wairarapa is part of a new proposal to be considered by Greater Wellington regional council.

The move comes as the region's smaller councils make more noise about pressing ahead with their own mini-amalgamations, rather than signing up to be part of a super-city.

In a report to be considered by Greater Wellington councillors on Wednesday, council staff have proposed tweaking some of the ideas mooted by Sir Geoffrey Palmer's independent review panel on amalgamation earlier this year.

Sir Geoffrey's two-tiered vision involved six local boards working under a Greater Wellington Council, with four representatives from central Wellington, two from Lower Hutt and one each from Upper Hutt, Porirua, Kapiti and Wairarapa.

But regional council staff have recommended a Greater Wellington Council with at least two members from each area.

The report has been prepared to aid councillors ahead of a regional working party that will try to formulate a united vision for amalgamation in Wellington.

The regional council and Porirua City Council have been advocating a two-tier format, but Wellington City Council officers have favoured a single-tier model.

Wairarapa's three district councils have stated a desire to unite as a single body, while the two Hutt Valley city councils have sought a report on the pros and cons of a valley merger.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said an extra seat at the top table was an obvious attempt to make the Palmer proposal more palatable, but whether the Upper Hutt people would swallow it was unknown.

He wanted to see the information on a single Hutt Valley council before making up his mind, he said.

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said he was confident the region would go to the Local Government Commission with majority agreement on a proposal for three councils - Hutt Valley, Wairarapa and a Wellington-Kapiti merger.

"The Greater [Wellington] regional council chair Fran Wilde has made it clear that parties to the talks she has initiated must support a single entity for the region - which the Hutt Valley does not.

"Efforts by the [regional council] to strong-arm councils into submitting to an unpopular choice will be resisted."

Ms Wilde said the regional working party was not attempting to "strong-arm" any council into a particular way of thinking.

"This is not about people. This is about getting a good process that ends up with arrangements that are suitable for the Wellington region."

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- The Dominion Post

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