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    Taranaki West Wharf Terraces and Lagoon

    Te Wharewaka - Taranaki West Wharf Terraces and Lagoon

    Taranaki West Wharf Wharawaka Upper Terrace

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    Taranaki West Wharf Wharawaka Terraces and kayak

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    Subject to Change, by Regan Gentry

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    Central Park

24 February 2015

Submission on the Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Wellington


(The Local Government Commission’s Draft Proposal for Reorganisation of Local Government in Wellington can be found here.)

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this. The Civic Trust has long taken an interest in the matter, because of its constitutional purpose of promoting quality in urban design and planning, and the safeguarding and sound development of the built and natural environment which shape the prosperity and distinctive character of the national capital. Throughout this submission, the term “Wellington” means the place as generally perceived from afar, or by citizens of the general region when referring to it from afar. “Wellington” used in these comments does not automatically mean either the historic “‘City of Wellington” or the administrative region defined by dotted lines on maps. “Wellington” is the distinctive part of New Zealand understood by that word; and whose prosperity, character and sustainability any LGC proposals should have at front-of-mind.
  2. The Wellington Civic Trust agrees that the greater Wellington Region faces major challenges arising from natural hazards, provision of infrastructure, demographic change, economic development and environmental management.  We think that the status quo will not best serve the governance and sustainable development of the region in the future. The current boundaries, inherited from the old Municipal and Counties legislation and consolidated in the late 1980s, are not appropriate to deal with the changing demands and pressures facing Wellington in the 21st century. Natural hazards, a narrow economic base, an ageing population and environmental and political issues demand a unified response at a strategic level if Wellington is to thrive as a liveable, smart and prosperous capital city within a vibrant region. We need planning and governance for both the long and short term and for both current and future generations. Strategic governance and planning responses must be at a regional scale and not compromised by current Council boundaries.
  3. Collaborative decision-making and action by Councils has to date been markedly weak and will not provide for effective and focused responses to present and future challenges.
  4. Regional communities face important local issues including increasing demands for quality individual and community services, and provision and protection of amenities. These priority local needs must be effectively delivered within the broader context of region wide governance. Thus, the purpose of the Local Government Act 2002, to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of local government, through local community participation and promoting good local government must be effected at both the regional and local levels. It will be critical that the reorganisation and allocation of functions provides ample opportunity for future councils and boards to fully engage with their communities, and at all levels. While acknowledging that the current proposal recognises this important need, the Civic Trust is concerned to ensure that it remains a critical focus in the design and implementation stage. It is all too easy for noble sentiments to be overtaken by notions of managerial efficiency.
  5. Your draft proposal identifies a number of requirements critical to the effective long term operation of this reorganisation. We believe the full effectiveness of this proposal will only be achieved if the Local Government Commission ensures the following important requirements are implemented in the final outcome of this re-organisation. These requirements are:
  • Ensuring an authorative mandate for decisive regional leadership and action.
  • The delivery of decisive, clear and strategic stronger regional planning and decision making, while preserving strong local representation and community focus.
  • Provision for aligning decision-making with the interests of communities that are directly affected by the decision through effective regional and local consultation and engagement mechanisms.
  • Implementing genuine subsidiarity in planning and decision making for local boards. The key requirement is to ensure that decision-making authority is given to local boards on matters of local significance and  that funding is available to implement decisions. We strongly support the Commission’s observation in 6.14 that there is broad scope to delegate regulatory as well as non-regulatory responsibilities to local boards.  We therefore recommend a review of the relevant section of the Local Government Act 2002 to ensure that arbitrary detail in it is not an obstacle to local boards having delegations for regulatory decisions of local significance.
  • Recognising the importance of the contribution from Maori by offering genuine and effective iwi and hapu participation in decision-making in the context of genuine partnership.
  • Providing opportunities to lift the region’s national and global competitiveness on the basis of its quality of life and as a wonderful place to live.
  • Providing maximum opportunity to deliver benefits from spatial planning, that is effectively aligned and integrated with the financial and statutory responsibilities of national and regional authorities.
  • Ensuring the Council and Local Boards are not top-heavy with management, leaving too few staff on the ground who have contact with local communities. There are numerous examples in Auckland City of Council managers not knowing what other managers are doing of relevance to their particular responsibilities. E.g. the Council Parks Manager being directly (and publicly) contradicted by the Central Manager of Local and Sports Parks in relation to the upkeep of St Patrick’s Square.
  1. It is essential for the new Council to have sufficient authority to ensure it has fully effective control and accountability of all Council-controlled organisations. As to this last point, there are numerous examples emanating from Auckland Council to demonstrate a total lack of accountability of CCOs to the elected Council.  For example, the Ports of Auckland Company appearing to act without mandate from or notice to the elected Representatives to demolish the end of Marsden Wharf, and to expand wharves and reclaim significant portions of the Waitemata harbour.
  2. Please let me know if you would like any further information or amplification. If there is an “oral hearings” stage, we request to take part.

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