4 Nov 2014

Wellington supercity survey disputed

9:28 am on 4 November 2014

A Wellington council opposing moves to merge it with the region's other councils says three out of four residents do not want a supercity either.

But supporters of amalgamation rubbished the survey by the Hutt City Council, saying it meant little and was a waste of ratepayers' money.

Wellington city

Wellington city. Photo: Photo NZ

The Greater Wellington Regional Council wants to roll the region's nine councils into one with councillors elected from each ward.

They would work above a set of local boards with up to nine members each.

Ray Wallace.

Ray Wallace. Photo: RNZ / Eru Rerekura

Hutt City Council spent nearly $18,000 dollars on a poll of 600 residents across the region which found 75 percent of respondents did not want a change.

Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace said that strengthened their stance against the changes.

"People are sitting up and taking notice and taking notice in the sense that they are indicating that there is no support or mandate for a supercity in the region."

But others have been quick to slam the survey's findings, and the motivation behind it.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said most of the city's workforce had jobs in Wellington or the Hutt Valley, so joining together made social and economic sense.

He said the latest survey result showed opposite results of previous surveys showing his region's support for amalgamation.

"Using bogus opinion polls to play politics is the oldest trick in the book and I always thought that Hutt City rate payers had better use of their time and resources, to be honest, but this isn't statistically significant."

Chair of the Greater Wellington Regional Council Fran Wilde said the survey was poorly timed and insignificant.

"Why are they spending money on a survey of any size right now just immediately prior to the Local Government Commission reporting when the people of Wellington are going to have several months to have a look at the Local Government Commission's proposal and make a considered decision by way of a referendum."

Fran Wilde.

Fran Wilde. Photo: SUPPLIED

The three Wairarapa councils have put in their own proposal to join up as one body but do not want the rest of the region involved.

Carterton mayor John Booth said his town was rural whereas much of Wellington was not, so sharing a council did not make sense.

But he said he was worried his small town might not be heard against the bigger players if the decision goes to a referendum.

"The vote should be done from the community of concern, I know the Wairarapa people should be voting on what happens in the Wairarapa, but now that they've structured it so that the vote will be taking Kapiti, Porirua, the two Hutts and the three councils in the Wairarapa."

The Local Government Commission will publish its preference for any council shake-ups in the region by Christmas.

It will then go out for public consultation.

But if 10 percent of residents from any one of the affected areas oppose the plan, they could force a region wide referendum.

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