'Grassroots democracy'

Mayors want seven wards

WALT DICKSON
Last updated 08:30 14/11/2012

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Architects of a proposed single Wairarapa council are describing their plan as "a true grassroots democracy."

The Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party, representing Carterton, Masterton and South Wairarapa district councils, is proposing a single Wairarapa council with an elected Wairarapa mayor, 12 councillors and five community boards. Two advisory committees - one for rural people and one for Maori - would enhance local decision making and democracy, they say.

Councillors would be elected from seven wards - with five councillors from Masterton, two from Carterton, one each from Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough and two rural wards getting one councillor each. Current ward boundaries for Masterton urban, Martinborough, Greytown and Featherston would be retained. The existing Carterton urban, Carterton rural and Masterton rural wards would be replaced with one Carterton ward and two rural wards.

In a joint statement released yesterday the region's three mayors, Garry Daniell, Ron Mark and Adrienne Staples, say it would be "a council fully elected by, fully representative of and fully accountable to Wairarapa residents - a true, grass- roots democracy".

The proposal is vastly different to the single Wellington council recommended by the Wellington Review Panel last month. The panel, appointed by Greater Wellington regional council and Porirua City Council, and headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, proposed that Wairarapa would have a single councillor on a Wellington- based council and become one of six constituencies under the single council.

The Wairarapa working party has previously called the Wellington Review Panel's proposal patronising.

"The panel's proposal, if adopted, leaves only two realistic options for Wairarapa - a single Wairarapa council responsible for everything, or becoming part of super-city style council with a Wairarapa sub- council, with decision making limited to activities such as dog control, liquor licensing and gambling," the three mayors said.

"The working party has listened to feedback from Wairarapa people who favour a single Wairarapa council and have been very clear that they do not want to be governed from Wellington."

"Wairarapa now needs to decide whether it wants to elect its own mayor, councillors and community boards to govern Wairarapa's planning, assets, finances and services; or transfer all of that to Wellington."

New laws expected to be passed by Christmas have sped up the process, with councils throughout the Wellington region considering their futures.

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The working party's consultation will be complete after a hui with all Wellington and Wairarapa councils on November 21.

- Wairarapa News

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