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Strengthening the Wellington region – a progress update
The Local Government Commission today reports that good progress has been made on its work with councils and communities to strengthen local government in the Wellington region, following the decision in June 2015 not to proceed with a proposal for a unitary council for the region.
Commission Chair Sir Wira Gardiner said that all parties had worked hard together to achieve real progress for the people of the Wellington region, and this progress was summarised in two reports, Strengthening the Wellington Region, Public Update, July 2016 and Wairarapa Local Government Arrangements, Summary of Community Feedback, July 2016, released today.
“Working constructively alongside the Mayoral Forum and the councils we were able to identify several work streams that could potentially make a difference to individual communities and to the region as a whole. We have been able to make significant progress on each of them,’’ Sir Wira said.
“In particular, we have worked closely with Wairarapa people and councils on their local government arrangements, worked up options with public input and engaged extensively on these.’’
The public engagement programme undertaken in the Wairarapa by the Commission in June and early July demonstrates the Commission’s approach of putting communities at the centre of their own local government arrangements. Broadly, it showed that people want more effective council arrangements and they also want to remain part of the Wellington region.
Specific community feedback also showed that among several options for council change, the front-runner was a single district council – combining the three districts together.
“In response to this community feedback, the Commission will work with the councils on the detail of this option, along with further consideration of a formal relationship between a prospective Wairarapa District Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council,’’ Sir Wira said.
“Any resulting proposal will be subject to further public consultation.’’
Sir Wira added that technical reports on transport, water, economic development and spatial planning in the Wellington region had been completed. Progress on each is summarised below:
Transport: the Commission has worked with councils to develop possible options for change to address alignment and capacity issues in the current system. These options are now subject to an Indicative Business Case analysis, scheduled for completion by October 2016. With councils, the Commission will then look to set out the process and timeframe for identifying a preferred option, including public consultation.
Water: the Wellington Water model has made good gains for ratepayers. It could provide even better value if councils collaborate further and support Wellington Water to deliver 3-5 year work programmes, rather than annual ones. However, Wellington Water should be given more time to develop and mature before major changes are considered. The Commission will be monitoring the councils’ response to the water report and remains open to considering changes to water services in any draft proposal in 2017.
Spatial planning: Wellington councils have differing views on the priority of spatial planning for the region but the majority agreed to an analysis of the region’s 23 growth-related plans to gauge gaps, overlaps and inefficiencies. A focused gap analysis will provide the Commission with further evidence before it decides on whether spatial planning should be a feature of local government arrangements in the region in future.
Economic development: more time is required for the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency to bed in – councils should consider a review by late 2017 if issues remain.
Sir Wira congratulated the Mayors, councillors, council officers and members of the community who had participated in the Commission-led work streams and public engagement programmes to date.
“If the spirit of cooperation, collaboration and vision demonstrated by the region’s leaders over the last year can be maintained, Wellington will be able to show the rest of the country how effective change can be achieved.’’
He also wanted to thank all those people who had contributed to the public engagement and stakeholder workshops, particularly in the Wairarapa.
“Your views and what you want for your communities are essential in guiding the Commission’s work,’’ Sir Wira said.
The following reports and resources can be found at www.lgc.govt.nz
Local Government Commission
Strengthening the Wellington region, Progress Update, July 2016
Wairarapa Local Government Arrangements, Summary of Community Feedback, July 2016
Wellington Regional Transport: Options for Change – Castalia Strategic Advisors
Analysis of Three Waters in the Wellington Region – Mott MacDonald
Local Government Economic Development Arrangements in the Wellington Region – MartinJenkins
Spatial Planning: Opportunities and Options for Metropolitan Wellington – Boffa Miskell
Wairarapa Telephone Survey report – UMR
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Why is the Commission still looking at Wellington?
Two applications were made to the Commission for changes to the structure of local government in the Wellington region and these applications are still “live’’. These were made by the three Wairarapa District Councils (in May 2013) and Greater Wellington Regional Council (in June 2013).
Didn’t that process end when the “super city” as dropped?
No. In June 2015 the Commission decided not to proceed with the specific proposal for a single unitary authority across the whole region, but it did not abandon the process as a whole. Even though public submissions were against the specific proposal for a single region-wide council, many submissions still suggested some change was desirable.
So where does the process sit at the moment?
After deciding not to move forward with its original draft proposal the Commission decided to see whether a new draft proposal could be identified that was likely to attract sufficient community support. Rather than simply defaulting to a “next best” position based on the earlier work, the Commission decided that a new and different approach was required. Since June last year the Commission has worked collaboratively with the councils of the region to identify agreed challenges and options for addressing these challenges in a constructive and collaborative way.
The update describes five focus areas; how were these chosen?
In addition to community feedback and submissions from earlier work, the Commission worked with the Wellington Mayoral Forum and council chief executives to identify work streams.
Wairarapa local government arrangements appear to be further advanced than some other issues?
This is correct. The Commission found that with the assistance of the four affected councils in the Wairarapa (the three district councils and the regional council) it has been possible to identify and advance the consideration of options for the Wairarapa. There has already been extensive public consultation on these, whereas with the other areas of interest the Commission’s work to date has been largely with councils.
How confident is the Commission that there is support in the Wairarapa for a combined District Council?
This reflects both the feedback from face to face consultations in the Wairarapa, the views expressed in questionnaire responses, and the results of the public opinion research by UMR.
Is a combined District Council for the Wairarapa a foregone conclusion?
No. The Commission now has further work to do with independent experts and councils on the detail of any such arrangement before initiating a possible draft reorganisation proposal. Any such proposal would be subject to further public consultation. If the Commission decides to issue a final proposal for a combined Wairarapa Council, a poll may be demanded by 10 per cent of the affected electors enrolled in any affected district.
What has the consultation in the Wairarapa consisted of?
During June and early July 2016, the Commission conducted public meetings in the main Wairarapa centres, set up drop-in centres, and canvassed the public through radio and newspaper advertisements and newspaper editorials. It sought feedback through a questionnaire and received about 1500 responses. It also commissioned a UMR telephone survey of 500 Wairarapa residents (230 residents in Masterton and 135 in each of Carterton and South Wairarapa).
If a formal proposal is issued for a combined Wairarapa council, and this is supported by the community, how long would it take to be in place?
It is likely that a new council would be elected in late 2018. These councillors would have an initial four-year term to bring elections in line with the next three-yearly election cycle in 2022.
What happens next?
Early next year the Commission intends making a decision on whether to release a new draft proposal for the Wellington region. If a new draft proposal is issued there would be a further round of public consultation. The next step after that would be for the Commission to issue a final proposal.
New Waingawa log hub underpins regional growth and trade
CentrePort has invested in a new regional hub in the Wairarapa.
The Waingawa log hub, near Masterton, supports the fast growing and valuable forestry sector through a reliable and cost effective transport connection, ensuring exporters remain internationally competitive.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges officially opened the venture this morning.
The project is the result of a successful partnership between Wellington’s port company CentrePort, Forest Enterprises Limited and Farman Turkington Forestry with the support of KiwiRail.
It is served by daily KiwiRail freight trains, connecting the Wairarapa region to CentrePort and to the world.
The development follows a period of sustained growth for the log trade in the Lower North Island.
Log volumes through CentrePort have grown by nearly 100% in the last five years, with further increases forecasted as a large volume of trees in the region reach maturity.
CentrePort Chief Executive, Derek Nind said, “the Waingawa log hub offers regional log exporters a sustainable, reliable, economic way of moving large volumes of logs to the port.
“Part of our long-term strategy is to invest in infrastructure, develop strategic partnerships and create seamless road and rail connections from the hinterland to our seaport. This will help unlock the potential of Central New Zealand.”
KiwiRail’s Group General Manager for Sales and Commercial Alan Piper said, “this is a great example of road and rail integration. Using Waingawa as a staging point for logs means that they can then be moved efficiently through to CentrePort on rail. I am certain the regular users of the Rimutaka Hill Road will appreciate the benefits that avoiding over 16,000 more truck trips on this stretch of road will have.”
Managing Director of Forest Enterprises, Steve Wilton said, “CentrePort’s investment in the hub has provided an efficient, secure and long term logistics channel to the port which is vital to our ability to successfully harvest in the Wairarapa. This is why we have taken a long term lease of approximately 50% of the footprint at Waingawa, complementing our long term commitment to log storage at CentrePort.”
Farman Turkington Forestry Partner Guy Farman said, “The commitment shown by CentrePort, as well as all the other stakeholders to make this hub work has been extremely
pleasing. It’s been really satisfying to see the hub and the port develop over the last few years. It’s certainly given us the confidence to take a long term lease at the Waingawa hub and expand our operations.”
In 2015 CentrePort, with its customers and service providers, contributed $2.5 billion to New Zealand’s GDP, 39% higher than in 2009. This contribution is increasing each year. Since 2009 CentrePort’s cargo volume has increased by 25 percent.1
The Government has the objective of doubling the value of primary industry exports by 2025.
WAIRARAPA HOSTS KEY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
The Regional Strategy Office at Greater Wellington in conjunction with the Wairarapa Councils is holding an economic development conference focused on building resilient local economies on August 9 and 10.
Carterton District Council Mayor John Booth says Carterton is delighted to be the conference anchor host.
“These are the types of events that get people thinking about our future and how we can work together to build resilient economies. Carterton’s economy is leading the way in the Wellington Region so it’s quite fitting we are hosting it here in our town.”
Local conference co- convener Tina Nixon says hosting the conference will give the Wairarapa the chance to showcase to a national audience some exciting industries and developments.
“There is so much happening here and we have filled the programme with sessions on many diverse topics from a range of interesting speakers who will undoubtedly challenge our thinking around regional development,” she says.
The Wairarapa will be featured as a case study for regional economies around New Zealand.
The conference will also hold an Ignite session which will give participants the chance to promote their ideas for business and economic growth and there is already strong interest in this session.
The conference is designed for people working in economic and business development fields. Further information can be found on the website at http://www.regionaldevelopment.nz/
For further information call Economic Development Conference co convener Tina Nixon , 027 223 27 89or - for Greater Wellington, Brigitte De Barletta on 06 8261542
Lets Work Together to Get New Zealand Ready for the Local Elections
From 27 June, everyone currently enrolled to vote will receive an enrolment update pack. Check your details, make any changes, sign it and send it back.
Voting in the local elections takes place by postal vote from 16 September to 8 October 2016. Only those correctly enrolled by 12 August will receive their postal voting papers in the mail.
If you’re not enrolled by 12 August you won’t be sent your voting papers in the post. That means that you’ll have to make a special vote, which takes longer. Enrol now.
It’s quick and easy to enrol or update your details. To check your enrolment or start the enrolment process you can go to www.elections.org.nz/enrol or call 0800 36 76 56. To get an enrolment form, pop into any PostShop or freetext your name and address to 3676. More information about enrolling to vote is available at www.elections.org.nz.
Information about enrolling for the local elections will be available in New Zealand Sign Language on www.elections.org.nz. Information for people with vision impairments will be available on the Blind Foundation’s Telephone Information Service.
Information about enrolling to vote in multiple languages is available online at www.elections.org.nz/languages.
Citizenship Ceremony - Wednesday 22 June
On Wednesday 22 June 2016 at the Carterton Events Centre, Mayor John Booth, led the New Zealand Citizenship Ceremony, where local Iwi, and Carterton District Councillors welcomed seven new Citizens. Congratulations to William Gregory, Elizabeth McPherson, Kathryn Renfro-Robeau, Wayne Smith, Nicolette Smith, Kellan Smith and Brenton Smith. We are all very proud to call you our fellow New Zealanders.
Passing of former Carterton Dirstrict Council Mayor, Gary McPhee
It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the tragic passing of our former Carterton Mayor, friend, colleague, and true personality, Gary McPhee.
The “Sheriff of Carterton”, with his tough exterior and straight talking mentality was staunchly loyal to our town and community, and with his unique style in which he led was one that we all admired and respected.
Gary was elected as Mayor in 2004 and was at the helm when Carterton District Council made the courageous decision to support and help fund the award winning Carterton Events Centre. This was a brave move , but with a growing town and a deficiency in local community facilities, the decision to move forward with the project was one that took great vision and leadership, and which will prove to be a his lasting legacy.
The colourful mayor, who was commonly seen astride his Harley Davidson, clad in black leather, was practical and hard working. Never afraid to roll up his sleeves and lend a hand. With a big heart he supported many worthy causes, Child Cancer, clever campaigns to raise awareness for Herceptin, and closer to his heart, men’s health issues, often talking about his own personal battles, openly and truthfully.
His passing is a tremendous loss to our small loyal town; he will leave a great hole within our community, and will prove irreplaceable.
Mayor John Booth says he will miss Gary dearly describing him as a man mountain with a heart of gold who always had the appropriate thing to say about what was going on in the District. As a Mayor he really wanted to help people, and went the extra mile for his community. Mayor Booth says “when I became Mayor he rang me and said he was so rapt to have another Gladstone man at the helm”.
He remembered him in meetings always making a point of sitting next to me, even if someone else was there he would politely ask them to move stating “John and I always sit together” and whenever he saw me he said the same thing “how’s it going John, you’re doing an awesome job”. He always made me feel humble.
When he was the Mayor, he would visit businesses with a clipboard and pen and go into the shops asking ‘what do I need to fix’ – he was that sort of Mayor, connected and deeply committed to the Carterton Community.
Mayor Booth described him as being a deep thinker, but man of few words. But when he did speak, he spoke with authority, tenacity and passion for his community.
On behalf of the Carterton District Council, and Carterton community we send our love and support to Sandy and the McPhee family, our thoughts are with you all at this extremely sad time.