Changes could be years away

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 13:01 22/11/2012

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Sweeping changes to Waikato's local government landscape could be up to four years away.

Last month the local government and environment select committee reported back on the Local Government Amendment Bill.

Divisions among committee members over key issues has resulted in the bill remaining largely unchanged.

In its current form, the bill scrubs the "four well-beings" which many councils blame for ballooning costs.

It also streamlines the process for local government reorganisation.

The timing of the bill's second reading has not been set down but, once passed, the Local Government Commission will start operating under the new, streamlined rules.

The commission makes decisions on the structure of local government.

Waikato regional councillors were told yesterday that any council reorganisation was unlikely to happen in the Waikato region in time for next year's local government elections.

A staff report said the commission needed time to engage with the community and "it should also be noted that local government reform in the Waikato region does not appear to be a priority for the Government".

The news will come as a bitter pill for those agitating for Coromandel Peninsula to split from the regional council.

This month, Thames Coromandel District Council was given a 1000-signature petition seeking a single-tier council combining the functions of today's district and regional council.

Regional council chairman Peter Buckley said the Waikato Mayoral Forum was making progress into work looking at collaboration across councils in planning, roading, water and wastewater.

The forum was also looking at an economic development strategy for the region.

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