In June 2015 the Local Government Commission announced its decision not to proceed with its proposal for a single Wellington council. The commission said it would instead work with communities within the region to try to identify other options to promote more effective local government within the region.
Since then the Commission has met with Wellington Region Mayoral Forum, chief executives and councils to look for opportunities to strengthen the region. Together the parties agreed to progress work in three main areas:
Our Mayor, other elected members and senior staff are active participants in the Commission’s work, which has also looked at current regional arrangements for economic development and water services.
In March the Commission provided councils with a report by consultancy firm Castalia – Wellington Regional Transport: Options For Change. We’re working with the Commission and councils across the region to explore the different options and advocate for solutions that will best meet the Kāpiti Coast’s needs and aspirations.
On 29 July 2016 the Commission released updates on progress.
The July announcements do not form a revised draft reorganisation proposal. In most cases the
Commissioners have determined further work needs to be done, which will provide the Commission with further evidence before it decides whether or not to issue a new draft reorganisation proposal for Wellington, and the scope of any proposal. It is expected that this step will happen early in 2017 and will be followed by formal public consultation and submissions.
We've summarised the Commission's updates below.
Wairarapa local government arrangements
The Commission’s public engagement in the Wairarapa shows that the community’s preference is for a single combined Wairarapa District Council. In response to that community preference the Commission will now undertake a detailed assessment of a combined district council.
Work on transport is still at too early a stage for the Commission to make decisions on possible future arrangements. The Commission will continue to work with councils, including finalising the Indicative Business Case on a targeted set of five options for transport. The Commission will then outline a process and timeframe for identifying a preferred option, including public consultation.
The Commission agrees with the consultants’ report that Wellington Water has delivered good gains in water services and more time is needed for the model to mature before considering any major changes.
The Commission has decided to proceed with an analysis of the 23 existing spatial plans and strategies. This analysis will assess any gaps, overlaps and inefficiencies before the Commission considers whether spatial planning should be a feature of local government arrangements in the region. The analysis will also seek a wider range of perspectives such as those of central government, iwi, and other groups with an interest in urban development.
The Commission supports the consultants’ recommendation that more time is required for the current economic development arrangements to bed before any review is considered. This is primarily because the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency has only recently been established.
From later 2014-early 2015 the Commission consulted on a proposal for amalgamation within the Wellington region.
What was our position?
Mayor Ross Church urged Kāpiti residents to express their views direct to the Local Government Commission (LGC).
We came out strongly in favour of a poll of residents to decide on the LGC's proposal. We also recommended that the Commission should satisfy itself it had “demonstrable support” for its proposal from the communities across the region before moving to a final proposal. Council also urged the Commission to hold hearings in Kāpiti – not only in Wellington as it had indicated.
Mayor Ross Church said among the benefits Council could see in amalgamation were linking regional infrastructure to regional planning; a better voice for the wider region, particularly on business and economic development matters; more efficient regulatory systems; and a reduction in compliance costs.
Disadvantages included the loss of local democracy and local voice; and the cost of change – it could have been close to a decade before financial benefits outweighed the transition costs.
Council supported some key elements of the report such as
The Council's submission can be read here.
The Commission held public hearings across the region where submitters, including council, presented their submissions. After that, the Commission decided not to proceed with the proposal.
In early 2013, Kāpiti Coast District Council was part of a working party which developed a couple of options for reorganisation in the region. The working party included Kāpiti Coast, Porirua, Wellington and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Both options involved establishing a bigger city in the region.
Under this single city option, there were two possible structures - one with a single tier and one with a second tier of elected local boards. A single tier of representation consists of a mayor and up to 29 councillors. A second tier of represenation consists of a mayor with fewer councillors (up to 21) in the first tier and a second tier of up to eight local boards. The alternative would be the status quo.
A telephone poll was commissioned by Council and undertaken between 6 - 25 May by SIL Research. It involved 1,500 residents across the four wards randomly selected and the scores weighted according to age and gender spread across the district.
Summary of results
Based on Council's area population projections of 38,120 residents 20yrs and over and a region wide weighted sample, poll results are reported at a 95% confidence level +/-2-2.5%.
A copy of the Governance Reform Poll is available for download or print from the link below:
Kāpiti Coast District Council commissioned Morrison Low and Associates to undertake an initial, high-level, financial investigation into the formation of a Kāpiti Coast Unitary Authority.
It now seems likely that there will be some change in the governance of the Wellington Region and because of this Kāpiti Coast District Council has investigated the financial implications of the formation of a Unitary Council for the Kāpiti Coast. As a unitary authority, the Kāpiti Coast Unitary Authority would have the responsibilities a territorial local authority and a regional council under the Local Government Act 2002.
A copy of the Morrison Low and Associates report is available for download or print from the link below:
The following documents give more background information to the local government reform:
Further general information is available from these websites:
Local Government Commission website
Greater Wellington Regional Council - Regional Governance
Auditor General's overview - Auckland Council: Transition and emerging challenges
Options for Kāpiti