Council cool on unity submission

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 19/05/2014

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A push to combine Taranaki's four councils is under way but the proposal has found no friends in the south.

In a submission to the South Taranaki District Council's draft Annual Plan last week, the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce urged it to get on board the "freight train" of local government regulation.

Chamber chairman Grant McQuoid said it was time for the council to develop a regional strategy and guidelines around a "One Taranaki" region, and create a road map to get the province there.

"We have four councils for 100,000 people - it just seems a little out of balance," he said. "There's no visible strategic direction around what is coming on that freight train of legislation.

"The council should be elevating this as public discussion and formulating a stance as a region."

McQuoid said Taranaki should look at a centralised back office for local government which could be in Hawera, Stratford or New Plymouth.

He said Taranaki needed one strong voice at a national level.

However, South Taranaki District Mayor Ross Dunlop said the region's three mayors and regional council chairman largely sang from the same song sheet, and questioned how one voice would be better.

"I'm not quite convinced that it will necessarily improve the situation."

Dunlop said the idea of a "back office" being anywhere other than New Plymouth "just wouldn't happen".

Councillor Ian Armstrong questioned how much consultation had been done within the organisation.

"Your submission would carry a lot more weight if I knew that it had actually been discussed with your members and agreed on by your members."

At the same meeting, a former South Taranaki councillor turned to poetry to get his message across.

In his submission, Peter Johnson took the council to task over the state of Ngawhini Rd and the council's responsibility to fix it.

"The first two k is bumpy and narrow, hardly enough room to push a barrow," his written submission stated.

"But council said it was all in hand, a 2014 fix on the 10 year plan.

"We are not sure if this is still on, or to save on rates this date has now gone."

Addressing the meeting directly, the two-term councillor said while the majority of the road was excellent, narrow, eroded and slick sections made it dangerous for all users.

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