3 May 2012

Porirua only council to approve super city talks

10:19 am on 3 May 2012

Seven out of eight lower North Island councils have rejected a Wellington Regional Council idea to form a panel to look into a possible super city in the region.

The only local authority to approve the idea was Porirua City Council where whose councillors voted unanimously in favour. The others plan to do their own consultation.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett says the Government has signalled amalgamation of local government is likely and Porirua wants to be part of that debate.

He says the other councils are putting their heads in the sand by refusing to participate - and he hopes they will change their minds.

"This is not a decision to amalgamate. This is a decision to get the very best information that will build a picture of what should happen, what could happen, in the Wellington region."

Mr Leggett says it will cost the Porirua City Council about $15,000 to engage in the process.

Wellington City Council's strategy and policy committee will meet next week on whether to agree to public consultation on four options.

The options are to jointly managing some services or merging the current councils into three or two councils, or a merger into one council for the region with with 10 local boards.

The three Wairarapa councils, South Wairarapa, Carterton and Masterton, have been carrying out their own study into shared services.

Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt city councils will be talking to their ratepayers about what they want and Kapiti Coast District Council plans to do its own consultation.

The mayors of Wellington and Upper Hutt expressed scepticism as to the independence of the panel, as some regional councillors, including chair Fran Wilde, have said they prefer one ruling body.

Ms Wilde told Morning Report any council that joined the process would be involved in selecting the panel.

"I'm not quite sure how they could understand that they would not be independent. But I'm not disappointed by the fact that they're not actually with us - they're doing their own thing."

She said she is pleased councils have finally decided to open up a public debate on the issue.