'It's not over' vows amalgamation advocate

BILL MOORE
Last updated 13:00 28/02/2014

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The Local Government Commission has declined an application from Nelson lawyer Rick Farr for the Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council to amalgamate.

However, Mr Farr said today that the issue was not over.

"We've only just had the decision so we're still considering it, but it's extremely unlikely that we will leave the matter there, it's just too important for the region," he said.

Mr Farr applied in November last year and in a decision today the commission said it had declined to assess the application, meaning it would not go through the first stage of the reorganisation process.

When the application became known late last year its timing was questioned by one of amalgamation's strongest advocates, Nelson MP Nick Smith, and the Nelson and Tasman mayors also publicly wondered why Mr Farr had gone ahead so soon after the previous attempt.

In an April 2012 poll one local authority was favoured by Nelson voters but emphatically rejected by Tasman voters, after then-Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio led a pro-amalgamation push.

Commission chief executive Donald Riezebos said today there were a number of criteria to be met before any application to reorganise local authorities could be assessed.

"In summary, the application for Nelson-Tasman did not contain the sufficiently detailed information the commission requires."

There were deficiencies in several areas, Mr Riezebos said.

There was no full and detailed explanation of what the proposed changes were seeking to achieve or how the changes would be done, the application did not describe the potential improvements and how they would promote good local government and it didn't show community support in each of the local authority areas, he said.

Mr Farr said he rejected this view.

"It contained a great deal more information than the previous application, so we find that rather peculiar.

"The previous application was a couple of sentences, as I understand it. The application we put forward was significantly more detailed."

He said his application had been supported by a number of people, and since it became public, support from throughout the region had been "significant".

Mr Farr said he and his supporters would consider the decision before deciding the next steps.

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