17 Jan 2009

Amalgamation of Wellington councils 'inevitable'

5:51 pm on 17 January 2009

Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast sees an amalgamation of the region's nine councils as inevitable.

On Thursday, The New Zealand Herald reported the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, will recommended a single council be established from Wellsford to Pukekohe, covering 140km.

At present, Auckland comprises a regional council, four city and three district councils and 30 community boards.

Ms Prendergast says a similar move in Wellington would improve efficiency.

The region encompasses Wellington City, Wellington Regional Council, plus Kapiti, Porirua, two councils in the Hutt Valley and three in Wairarapa.

Ms Prendergast says having a single vision for the region would be the greatest benefit of combining the authorities.

But she says it is unclear at this stage whether merging the councils would be cheaper for ratepayers.

Porirua Mayor Jenny Brash says a single council across the region may not save much money.

Ms Brash, a long-standing mayor of the city, says specialist knowledge needs to be retained across different parts of the region.

She says an interim step to reduce the number of Wellington councils from nine to fewer should be investigated.

The Royal Commission into the Governance of Auckland is due to report to the Government by 31 March.