Amalgamation on agenda

By Natalie Dixon

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Tauranga's incoming council (minus Mayor Stuart Crosby and Cr Gail McIntosh):  Rick Curach (back, from left), Steve Morris, John Robson, Matt Cowley, Kelvin Clout, Clayton Mitchell, Bill Grainger, Bev Edlin (front) and Catherine Stewart. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga's incoming council (minus Mayor Stuart Crosby and Cr Gail McIntosh): Rick Curach (back, from left), Steve Morris, John Robson, Matt Cowley, Kelvin Clout, Clayton Mitchell, Bill Grainger, Bev Edlin (front) and Catherine Stewart. Photo / George Novak

They are yet to be sworn into their new roles, but Tauranga's new-look council is already making big changes - including looking at a possible amalgamation with Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

On October 30, the councillors who will drive the city's agenda over the next three years will each get five minutes to speak about their hopes and ambitions, during the inaugural meeting where they will be officially sworn in.

It will mark the first day of a new Tauranga City Council (TCC), one that is intent on turning its attention to new events, community engagement and the future of the city's finances - along with a possible amalgamation with Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Mayor Stuart Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times there was real "passion and excitment" amongst the new councillors, who have been taking part in workshops in the lead-up to the inaugural meeting next week.

There were some major changes in the structure of council, with a shakeup of old long-standing committees and the announcement of two new ones.

Mr Crosby said he would be handing over some of the day-to-day work to incoming deputy mayor Kelvin Clout so he could lead large projects, including a possible amalgamation between the city council and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

"We are waiting on the Government to find out what the final plans will be," he said.

"The environment is right for the Western Bay of Plenty Council and Tauranga City Council to have the conversation and decide on an outcome with help from the community, but there will be more details about that a bit later.

"It will be a big issue that will need a lot of time, which is why I have chosen to pass on some of my workload to my deputy."

The full list of standing committees, chairs and deputies was announced yesterday with two new committees - Finance and Risk and Community Development, revealed.

Both have new councillors at the helm; John Robson taking on Finance and Risk and Steve Morris, Community Development.

Cr Gail McIntosh, deputy chairwoman of the Finance and Risk Committee, said it was created because of the need to reinvigorate the city's finances. "We all know about the debt and we all know the finance structure of council needs to be renewed, this is about a fresh pair of eyes and also looking ahead - weighing up what we have and what we need and creating some confidence in the community," she said.

Cr McIntosh said she was excited about the new council. "We all heard the yell for change loud and clear," she said. "And that is what we are focusing on - to change and to do better."

Cr Morris said each of the new councillors had the chance to meet individually with the mayor and chief executive. "We got to tell them what we want, what we are passionate about," he said.

Cr Morris said he was focused on getting through a backlog of community issues he had discovered while campaigning.

"Getting back in touch with people is a major focus of ours going ahead.

"We want to hold council meetings in different suburbs and really get out there and meet everyone. We are also committed to no infighting. There is no point sniping at each other, we need to move past that, get rid of the debt, attract industry into town and invigorate our small communities.

"There have been some really innovative ideas being flashed around at this week's meetings, I think the inertia of the past council has been well stamped out."

Cr Morris said having seven new councillors had swayed the balance of power. "There are so many of us newbies we don't have to get sucked into the old ways, we can create our own way, and that is very positive."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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