City stakeholders open to two-tier plan

Last updated 10:32 06/11/2012
Jim Chipp

KINGMAKER Sir Geoffrey Palmer delivers the recommendations of the local governance review panel.

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A muscled-up Wellington regional council sitting over the top of existing local authorities has the support of local businesses.

The "super-city lite" plan was proposed by a regional governance panel chaired by Sir Geoffrey Palmer and announced last Tuesday.

In consultations around the region the panel had found widespread aversion to an Auckland-style super-city, he said.

However, the region lacked leadership and there were things that could not be done effectively under the present structure of local government silos, he said.

Porirua Chamber of Commerce executive director Holly Thompson said she and the local business community had not yet had time to fully digest the report.

However, it was important any new local governance arrangements created better opportunities and made it easier to overcome barriers to growth, she said.

"It's not a case of saying 'here's a new structure, lets make it work', it's a case of finding one that addresses the challenges that we face in the Wellington region."

Porirua was unusual in having a relatively small base of only 50,000 ratepayers and no significant other sources of income.

"It can't be a 'copy and paste' from Auckland," she said.

The new structure ought to be based on logic and commonsense rather than invisible lines in the sand such as territorial boundaries, Ms Thompson said.

Porirua rugby identity and city councillor Denys Latham was enthusiastic about the panel's proposal. Large-scale initiatives such as regional artificial turf facilities would be at the behest of the regional council under the plan.

However, more modestly- scaled sports facilities, such as one proposed by Paremata- Plimmerton rugby club could be considered by the local council.

But there was a lot of work to be done before any new structure could be implemented.

Mr Latham could not envisage it being done in time for the local body elections next year, but it would be better to take the time to learn any lessons from the Auckland super-city experience.

"I just hope that other councils are prepared to look at it in the light of what is good for the region and not what is good for the local areas," he said.

International Festival of the Arts chief executive Sue Paterson said it was an interesting debate.

"From the Festival point of view our regional audiences are really important to us and we welcome any new initiatives that will deepen our engagement with those audiences," she said.

"We would support the most effective and efficient method of governing the region. As Wellingtonians we identify with the whole region, not just Wellington city."

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