One Lord Mayor to rule them all?
Wairarapa's three councils will combine into one and all others will stay the same if the recommendations of Sir Geoffrey Palmer's local governance review panel are heeded.
However, much of the councils' authority will shift to a new super regional council led by a Lord Mayor.
Sir Geoffrey, together with panel members Sue Driver and Bryan Jackson, delivered the report this morning, October 30, following five months of consultation and delibration since it was established by Wellington Regional Council and Porirua City Council.
The rest of Wellington region's local authorities had declined to participate, though Sir Geoffrey acknowledged that they had all contributed to the panel's process.
The new Greater Wellington Council will assume the transport and environmental regulatory authority of the present regional council as well as spatial planning, asset and financial management, and rating.
Rates would be frozen for three years while a regional rating regime was developed and the local councils would retain their current boundaries.
In the new more powerful regional councill the Lord Mayor would be elected at large, central Wellington would have four councillors, Lower Hutt two and Upper Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti would have one each and they could serve for no more than three four-year terms.
Sir Geoffrey said lack of leadership was a key challenge driving the changes.
The region needed a single strong voice, he said, citing a member of the public who spoke to the panel at a meeting in Upper Hutt.
''I live in Upper Hutt and I know who the leader of Auckland is - Len Brown, and I know who the leader of Christchurch is. It is Bob Parker. I don't know who the leader of Wellington is.''
Sir Geoffrey said present local government arrangements were unable to provide a regional leader but establishing a the position of Lord Mayor would.
The panels proposal needed to fully consulted upon throughout the region, he said.
''One can learn from Auckland in this regard, to not do things too fast.''
Greater Wellington and Porirua councils will consider the panel's report and make their own submissions to the Local Government Commission before it makes any changes to governance in the region.