New laws could kill off community boards

JIM CHIPP
Last updated 10:53 04/12/2012

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The Hutt Valley appears to hold the whip hand if the region pursues a new two-tier model of local government.

But if the region goes for the set up proposed by the Sir Geoffrey Palmer-led independent panel, it's likely to spell the end of community boards.

Last Wednesday, the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill passed its  third reading in Parliament, leaving only royal assent needed before it passes into law.  That assent is expected to be granted some time this week.

 Among the new conditions was government approval for two-tier council structures, as proposed by the independent panel set up by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Porirua City Council.

However, it came with conditions.

Two tiers was the maximum, meaning there could be an overarching super-city council, with either community boards beneath it or local councils, but not both.

Furthermore, two-tier structures are restricted to councils representing populations of 400,000 or more.

Wellington region has a population of just over 480,000 but the 40,000 residents of Wairarapa want to defect to form their own unitary council, and the two Hutt cities, with a combined population of 150,000, are looking at their own merger.

That would leave 200,000 Wellingtonians, 50,000 Porirua residents and 50,000 Kapiti residents - not enough to form a two-tier city without at least Lower Hutt.

At its meeting last Thursday, Kapiti Coast District Council appointed a panel of four to represent it in discussions with Wellington and Porirua on amalgamation.

The council also agreed to consult residents on any amalgamation proposal in January or early February.

In announcing the resolution was carried, Mayor Jenny Rowan said: ''We're actually starting the process of our demise.''

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