CEO to report on single Valley council

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 16:43 27/11/2012

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Hutt City Council is increasingly warm on the idea of a single council for the Hutt Valley, but wants additional information.

After more than two hours of hearing submissions and discussing options on Monday night, councillors instructed chief executive Tony Stallinger to report in detail on the pros and cons of a Valley merger.  However, most councillors appeared to accept the need for change.

In public feedback on amalgamation, 45 percent of Hutt residents favoured no change to council boundaries, but greater regional co-operation.

Most of the submitters who spoke at Monday's meeting also wanted existing council boundaries to stay as they are.

A common theme was retention of local democracy and talk of a super city was opposed.

Only three percent of the 973 survey respondents favoured one council for the entire region.

A merger of Hutt and Upper Hutt City Councils won 30 percent support.

The other 22 per cent suggested different merger scenarios, or did not specify a preference.

Western Community Committee deputy chair Peter Matcham urged councillors to think about the environment. Greater Wellington Regional Council is currently responsible for environmental monitoring and he wanted that role to remain independent of city councils.

Deputy Mayor David Bassett said the two Hutt Valley councils have increasingly shared services and the time had come to tie the knot with Upper Hutt.

There was already a strong community of interest and he said Hutt City has little in common with Wellington City.

The only councillor who expressed any doubt about a future with Upper Hutt was Cr Ken Laban, who said there could be some benefits in joining with Wellington.

He wanted to see Lower Hutt thrive economically and be part of a vibrant arts, and cultural scene.

His said his final vote would be based on what was in the best interests of the city and not on whether or not he would have a job under a new structure, he said.

Councillor Roger Styles noted the status quo had a lot of support and he agreed with the view that local democracy was important. 

However, the move towards a super city was backed by some very powerful people and change seemed inevitable, he said.

''One thing is certain, some local people are going to get run over.''

Mayor Ray Wallace said the council must listen to the community and there was strong support for a single Hutt Valley council. Before any decision can be made, however, the council needed more information.

The motion to get a report from council officers was carried unanimously.

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After the meeting, Mayor Wallace said he doubted the merger information could be collated by December 11, when councillors were supposed to make a decision on the future of Lower Hutt's earthquake-prone civic buildings.

The decision was important and if necessary, it could be held off until after Christmas, the mayor said.

He said it was ''quite clear'' that there was no local support for a super city but residents were prepared to look at a future with Upper Hutt.

The council would have to consult with residents before making a final decision.

- Hutt News

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