Editorial: Amenities fund benefits all

Last updated 10:56 09/10/2012

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Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett seems to want a bob each way on regional co-operation.

His council is the only territorial local authority backing Greater Wellington Regional Council's independent panel investigating council mergers. He's made noises to the effect we have to stop parochialism and pull together as Wellingtonians.

But Porirua City, Carterton and South Wairarapa District councils are bucking regional accord on contributing to a new regional amenities fund first proposed more than two years ago by the Mayoral Forum.

Wellington, Hutt, Upper Hutt, Kapiti and Masterton council ratepayers will together stump up $910,000 in year one, with Hutt's share being $195,000, or just over $5 per rateable property.

If Hutt sticks with the fund, our contribution could rise to $585,000 a year by 2017.

Obviously, if Porirua and the two Wairarapa councils also paid a share, we'd pay less.

Mr Leggett has said he does not want to lumber his ratepayers with costs when it's not obvious how it would benefit them.

But somewhat perversely, he said if the fund was administered and rated by the regional council, Porirua would be in.

In fairness to Mr Leggett, it isn't immediately clear what exactly qualifies for support by the fund and what doesn't.

Answering a letter to the editor this week, Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace chose to highlight causes such as Wellington Free Ambulance and the Life Flight Trust.

But other news reports last week said possible uses included big ticket concerts, festivals and events, such as getting AC/DC to Westpac Stadium.

Hutt folk have still to make their call on whether some form of amalgamation is in our best interests.

But we are part of a wider region, and we can't go on pretending that just because Te Papa, the Carter Observatory, the Sevens or big concerts are in Wellington City, we shouldn't have to dip our hands in our wallets at all. We attend these things, and some of us gain employment from them.

The regional fund could just as easily look at making a contribution to the Dowse or Petone's Winter Festival, which draws out-of-town crowds.

The fund will be administered by a joint committee of representatives from every council that contributes money. That's fair, and as it should be.

For such causes and genuine regional amenities there is indeed a case to put parochialism aside and pull together as a region.

Simon Edwards, Editor

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- Hutt News


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