Council amalgamation bid fails

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:03 21/04/2012

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Disappointment, relief and a result that meant a dilemma for the region was the response to today's failed amalgamation bid from three key players.

The bid to amalgamate the Nelson and Tasman councils has failed, based on a progress result issued at 1pm today, despite a strong level of support from Nelson city. More were against the idea in Tasman.

For the poll to have succeeded, it needed more than 50 per cent support in each polling area of Nelson and Tasman.
Preliminary results show Nelson voters were in support by 56.69 per cent with 10,276 votes and 7813 against.

In Tasman, 74.31 per cent were opposed, with 16,532 votes against and 5671 in support.
The progress result was issued with a 50.88 per cent return in Nelson city and 63 per cent return in Tasman.

Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne, whose council was in the main strongly against amalgamation, said today he was ''very relieved''.

''The people have spoken. I want to thank everyone in Nelson and Tasman who took the trouble to look at the issue and express their preference by voting,'' Mr Kempthorne said.

He said the turnout was ''tremendous'', and the result of a democratic process. He hoped the majority decision would be respected and the acrimony of recent weeks could now be left behind.

Nelson city Deputy Mayor Ali Boswijk, speaking for the city in the absence of Mayor Aldo Miccio who is speaking as representative of electors, said the result presented a dilemma for the region.

''This was something Nelson city wanted and Tasman didn't, but in my heart of hearts, I'm not really surprised,'' Mrs Boswijk said.

Mr Miccio was disappointed but now aims to promote an amended model of council amalgamation

''Those in favour of amalgamation may not have had the result we wanted through the public poll, but our first objective had been to get an independent proposal in front of the public to consider and vote on, and we have achieved that,'' Mr Miccio said.

He said the combined progress result showed a majority in the wider region supported amalgamation, which made it a strong case for successful change under the upcoming local government sector reforms.

''This process also highlighted some areas of concern in the Local Government Commission's reorganisation scheme put in front of us this year,'' he said.

''One council remains a goal for myself and thousands of others, and we will keep striving to achieve this, as we continue to believe it offers the best model of local governance for our region.

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''In the meantime, it is important that we continue working well together as representatives of our communities,'' Mr Miccio said.

He will now propose setting up a joint shared services committee to investigate further ''meaningful projects'' on which the two councils could share services, such as a single building consents unit, and a single IT unit.

''I have already spoken with most of my councillors and I will be speaking with Richard Kempthorne shortly, to look to consider this as soon as possible,'' he said.

Preliminary and final results will be announced as soon as possible next week.

- The Nelson Mail

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