The Kāpiti Coast District Council has unanimously rejected the idea of partnering with Greater Wellington on local government reform.
Mayor Jenny Rowan and councillors considered an invite from Greater Wellington Chair Fran Wilde for Kapiti, with other councils, to join an independent review to look at changes to regional government.
There was a discussion described as ‘robust’, but not one councillor supported the idea
Councillor K Gurunathan told the meeting that the Regional Council appeared to be controlling the process on unrealistic time-frames, against expert advice.
Warning of takeover
“I support change but change in which Kapiti is involved in shaping. What this paper provides is a blueprint for a Regional Council takeover,” he said.
Councillor Tony Lester said he supported the idea of centralisation of services but was not happy with the way it was being driven by the Regional Council. “I am concerned about the time-frames and concerned about being centralised under someone else’s rules and processes.”
Councillor Tony Lester also objected to the Council contributing toward the estimated $150,000 cost of the Greater Wellington initiative.
‘No confidence’, says Gaynor
Councillor Penny Gaylor said she had “no confidence” the independent panel would allow Kapiti to influence or shape things.
Councillor Ross Church said he was concerned Greater Wellington was controlling the process. “We would be abdicating our responsibility to Kapiti if we allow ourselves to be led to this extent,” he said.
Councillor Cardiff said he wanted no part in the process and that Kapiti needed, in consultation with the community, to come up with other options.
Councillor Gurunathan added: “What they have presented to us is a fait accompli and it’s an insult to the people of Kapiti.”
Councillors agreed that while they didn’t see the independent review panel, as proposed by Greater Wellington, as the way forward, they needed to engage the community in coming up with alternatives to take to the Local Government Commission.
Mayor: ‘Council needs to move fast’
Mayor Jenny Rowan said new Minister of Local Government, David Carter, appeared to be sticking with the time-frame set by former Minister Nick Smith, so the Council needed to move fast to engage with the community and come up with alternative options.
She said: “We need to work together with our community to come up with a submission for the Local Government Commission because one of the things the Commission will be looking at is community buy-in to any proposed reform.”
And Mayor Rowan said that,while Central Government’s time-frames seemed unreasonable, they were unlikely to change.
“If this Minister wants government reform within eight months we’ve got to take it seriously,” she said. ” We know what it’s like to work with a government that has a time-frame. They can make things happen if they want to.”
Mayor Rowan also said the majority of councils in the region had decided against joining the panel.
For further information, phone Anna Kenna 04 296 4676 or 027 5555676