Hard-line approach to Waikato amalgamation

JAMIE SMALL
Last updated 13:10 18/06/2014
Waikato amalgamation
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The proposed Greater Waikato Council

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The Mayoral Forum has stamped out Property Council New Zealand's proposal for amalgamation of district councils.

But that won't stop the council pushing ahead with its agenda.

The council put forward a submission to the forum earlier this year, suggesting a reorganisation of local government in the Waikato.

This would mean the amalgamation of Waikato District, Waipa District, Matamata-Piako District, Hamilton City and parts of the Otorohanga, South Waikato and Waitomo Districts into one unitary authority.

The forum released a statement earlier in the week saying it disagreed with the council's proposal. Forum chairman Alan Sanson said it would be better off concentrating on a 30-year collaborative strategy for regional growth and development.

Property Council Waikato president Robert Dol met forum members this week.

"We congratulate the Mayoral Forum on commencing the spatial plan process for the Waikato region," he said. "We brought that up in one of our documents we released in 2011."

But he was disappointed in the forum's hard-line approach to amalgamation. "They've made their views very clear."

He said the council would continue to work on community support for the proposal.

"We're still working through a proposal for reorganisation. We haven't stopped that process and we won't."

Dol said the council has received feedback on its submission, and among other things will take into account the community's views on the boundaries drawn into the plan.

"We've got some valuable feedback and we're going to take that into consideration."

He said the property council is concerned with the community's wishes, rather than those of the Mayoral Forum.

"Given the voter turnout in local government elections, I don't necessarily believe all those mayors represent their constituencies," said Dol.

"At the end of the day, the community will decide whether they want reorganisation."

The organisations expressed a wish to find some common ground.

"We've agreed that we want to work together with the Mayoral Forum to make the Waikato region a better place," said Dol.

jamie.small@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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