Panel's work heartens Jackson

JIM CHIPP
Last updated 10:10 24/07/2012
HUTJacksonweb
FAIRFAX

Safe hands: Wellington governance review panel member Bryan Jackson. In the foreground is fellow panel member Sir Wira Gardner

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Bryan Jackson was born and educated in Auckland but laughs off any suggestion a Jafa shouldn't be trying to tell Wellingtonians how to run their place.

"I'm very much a Wellingtonian," he said.

Mr Jackson said he and his wife had lived in the Hutt Valley most of their married life and next March will have lived in Waikanae for 10 years.

Mr Jackson had a long career in insurance, construction and automotive industries.

He serves on the four-person panel reviewing the Wellington region's council structures.

A Hutt Valley District Health Board chairman for six years, he said that was a challenge.

"I think the problem with health is that people who work there are wonderful but patient care transcends anything to do with cost."

He is proud that on his watch the board was the first Crown Health Enterprise to run at a financial surplus.

"Everyone is an expert and politicians like to have a finger in the pie," he said. Is the region broken? If not, why fix it?

"The concern I have is that we need to re-invent ourselves a bit because when you look at Auckland, despite the problems it has, it's starting to really get going," Mr Jackson said.

"And I think Canterbury is going to be a real powerhouse.

If we are not careful we are going to get left behind."

The panel visited Auckland to study how the super-city was working and Mr Jackson said there were clear efficiency gains in such things as roading contracts covering larger areas and longer periods, and savings made from managing cash flow on a larger scale.

Library services have improved; anyone in Auckland can borrow from any library. Aucklanders were taking more pride in their city, he said.

Mr Jackson said he hoped people are not preoccupied with the form of local government that might result from the review but will tell the panel what council services are important and how they want them delivered.

"The customer, to me the ratepayer, has got to be put on the top of a pedestal and we have to to do the best we can to look after them."

The formation of the panel by Greater Wellington and Porirua city councils has been controversial. Remaining councils in the region, including Hutt, did not participate and have begun consultation processes of their own.

After a meeting with Kapiti Coast District Council Mr Jackson said he came away with the impression they were ready to talk.

"Wellington has been a little bit difficult but that could be because the mayor is overseas.

"The Hutt is a bit worried about us but I don't think anyone will refuse to talk to us," he said. "Sir Geoffrey [Palmer who chairs the panel] has a lot of mana and I don't think anyone will turn him down."

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