15 Jun 2015

Fran Wilde goes after 'Plan B' fails to fly

9:44 am on 15 June 2015

Wellington Regional Council's chairperson Fran Wilde resigned after most councillors failed to support a plan to remove some powers from local councils.

Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde Photo: SUPPLIED

Ms Wilde announced on Saturday she would be stepping down at the end of the month.

After the Local Government Commission last week scrapped a proposal to amalgamate councils in the Wellington region and Wairarapa, Ms Wilde proposed a transfer of some powers to the regional council without a formal amalgamation process.

Papers released to Radio New Zealand show the plan would have transferred local responsibilities for roads, water, resource planning, and economic development to the regional council.

A discussion document called Plan B said the transfer could be implemented faster than amalgamation.

Regional councillor, Prue Lamason told Morning Report the plan would have further damaged relationships with existing territorial authorities.

"This Plan B has had no input at all from any other regional councillor," she said.

Ms Wilde told Morning Report the plan was one of a number that were instigated by the mayoral forum which asked for a range of options to go to the Local Government Commission for consideration.

"And I sent a draft for feedback to a group of councillors on GW [Greater Wellington Regional Council] following an informal discussion we'd had where the possibility of transferring functions both ways was raised."

Ms Wilde said she resigned because she believed her stand on amalgamation had damaged the council's relationship with other local authorities in the area.

She said she had since been told by the chair of the mayoral forum that he did not believe her stance had damaged relations.

Ms Lamason had described the plan as despotic and led the charge to have Ms Wilde removed. She garnered the support of nine (including herself) of thirteen councillors to ask Ms Wilde to step down.

"There was no way that the mayors and councillors of the local [Territorial Authorities] were going to accept Plan B," she said.

"I just simply can't understand how Fran would have possibly thought that it would go through."

The Plan B document proposing local power transfers

The regional council's deputy chair, Barbara Donaldson, said Ms Wilde was intrinsically linked to the scrapped supercity proposal, and it was time for a fresh start.

The letter from councillors to Ms Wilde

Ms Donaldson said the council needed to restore relationships throughout the region.

"There was a big push back [to the amalgamation proposal]," she said. "It wasn't accepted by the other councils, it wasn't accepted by the community.

"So that means it's time to really take a step back and say, what would be the best way forward? And how can we re-establish our relationships?"

Ms Donaldson said that required a fresh start and she was now considering standing for the role of chairperson.

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