Local government change 'coming' - mayor
A shake-up of Canterbury's local government is inevitable, Christchurch's mayor says.
Bob Parker said the Government's decision to retain the commissioners running Environment Canterbury (ECan) gave a "clear signal".
"I think it is coming and I think we have been sent a clear signal."
Parker said it was a "long-awaited debate" but he had no thoughts on the final form this would take.
However, Local Government Minister David Carter said a Christchurch City Council-ECan amalgamation was "definitely not" going to happen.
He was not advocating a unitary approach to local government, but said there was legislation that enabled councils to apply to amalgamate if they saw the need.
Christchurch City councillor Glenn Livingstone said an amalgamation would "not serve" the interests of Cantabrians.
The community was now having less say in the rebuild in a region where people were already feeling "powerless enough" in the face of insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission.
"Shutting our people out of decisionmaking is not the way to rebuild Canterbury."
Livingstone said people wanted, and needed, to have a say in who made the decisions about Canterbury's water.
City councillor Jimmy Chen said Christchurch and Canterbury needed more democracy but had been given less.
"Central government has taken more and more power for itself, so there is less and less accountability to the people who actually live here.
"It is the exact opposite of what we need."
Canterbury needed more unifying leadership, not a directive from Wellington, he said
Meanwhile, former ECan chairman Sir Kerry Burke has hit out at Carter's decision, saying the Government's fear of a democratically-elected ECan's influence over water planning and allocation was the real reason for axing the elections.
'This is all about water for the Government's friends and a fear of the growing influence of the urban vote in an elected ECan.'
The council did not deserve this fate, he said.
"It led New Zealand in many aspects of regional councils' work, some of which was copied by the Government for its own programmes."
He said former regional councillors had listened to the Government make false claims about their competence and professionalism in order that it could take control of Canterbury's water.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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