Hastings Mayor under fire over merger plans

By Lawrence Gullery

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Napier city councillor Bill Dalton has come out firing against proposed changes to make council amalgamations easier.

Cr Dalton, on his website blog, was critical of Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule's involvement in the local government reforms announced this week.

Mr Yule, in his job as president of Local Government New Zealand, had worked with the Local Government Minister Nick Smith on the reforms.

"Lawrence ... has managed to convince National's Nick Smith that it makes sense to remove citizens' democratic rights," Cr Dalton said in his column.

The reforms included changes to the way a decision was made on whether councils should merge.

Currently it needed majority support from each area but under the reforms it would need 50 per cent support from the entire region being considered for amalgamation.

"As it stands right now, Napier residents have the final say on any changes to the governance of Napier," Cr Dalton wrote.

"Under the Yule/Smith plan, residents of Havelock North, Flaxmere, Waipawa and Raupunga will have a say equal to that of Napier residents."

Mr Dalton told Hawke's Bay Today: "I have no objection to the reforms which try to curb the spending of council and I am not saying that eventually amalgamation won't be a good ting. But what I am trying to do is promote the right processes to go through."

Mr Yule was yesterday chairing the first of five meetings between Dr Smith, mayors and council CEOs in Wellington, to discuss the reforms.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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