Hawke's Bay amalgamation the way forward

Last updated 12:35 27/11/2013

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Hawke's Bay Sun

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One council for the whole of Hawke's Bay with its headquarters in Napier is proposed by the Local Government Commission.

The proposal was released yesterday at noon.

The commission believed the move could save the region's ratepayers between $5 million and $10m.

Public submissions on the plan are now being called for, closing on March 7. Public hearings would then be held in Hawke's Bay.

The first super-council election would be held in 2015 with the council in place for four years until the next nationwide local body elections in 2019.

As well as replacing the Hastings, Napier, Central Hawke's Bay, Wairoa and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, the unitary authority would take in a "small area of Rangitikei District".

The entity would be make up of nine councillors elected from five wards, and one mayor elected districtwide.

Under that would be five community boards with 37 elected members.

The proposal names them as Wairoa, Ngaruroro, Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay.

That would add up to 47 elected members, against the current 57.

There would also be a Maori Board, a standing committee of council, made up of local iwi and councillors.

All debt would be ring-fenced to its particular areas for "at least" six years.

As a unitary authority it would be in charge of all matters currently under the control of the district, city and regional councils.

Service centres would have to be kept in Wairoa, Napier, hastings, Waipawa and Waipukurau.

In its release, the commission said one council would provide "strong leadership through integrated local government".

Chairman Basil Morrison said the most common concern heard during the commission's research was that progress in the region had been held back by "rivalry and lack of co- operation".

"Another common theme . . . was the need to preserve the special identities of established communities. We have done that with the region-tier of community boards, which would be empowered to make decision on matters that directly affect those local communities."

The commission did not believe there was a risk to individual community identity.

"Reorganisations elsewhere do not support the argument that an established community loses its identity."

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- The Hastings Mail

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