Bill an insult to Napier: Dalton

By Lawrence Gullery

The anger among Napier ratepayers towards its council merging with Hastings is building, if comments by one of Napier's city councillors Bill Dalton are to be believed.

Mr Dalton said proposed changes to the Local Government Act, which include a look at re-organising councils, was "an insult to the people of Napier".

"This bill has been drafted in consultation with Local Government New Zealand whose president is the mayor of Hastings, Lawrence Yule.

"The clauses in the bill which could affect the future governance arrangements in Hawkes Bay, neatly fit the aspirations of Lawrence Yule and the Better Hawke's Bay group."

The bill states amalgamation could only take place if there is significant community support.

"Nowhere does it define the word 'significant'," Mr Dalton said. "Is 20 per cent significant or should it be 30 per cent or 40 per cent? What was wrong with the democratic more than 50 per cent rule?"

Currently any council merger needed majority support from each district or city involved. But under the reforms it would need 50 per cent support from the entire region being considered for amalgamation.

"Thanks to this unfair and undemocratic bill, the people of Napier will have no greater say in the future governance of their city than will those in Raupunga or Paki Paki or Hastings. Where is the fairness in that?"

Mr Dalton said it was correct some councils in New Zealand had been managed poorly but Napier was in an excellent financial position.

"The effect of this legislation could well be that Napier will be forced, against the wishes of the majority of its people, to amalgamate with a council that is in a significantly poorer financial position. That is undemocratic."

Mr Yule said the Local Government Commission could make a decision to merge councils but people could force a poll if they wanted to have the final say on the matter.

"Bill Dalton claims I wrote the amendment [Bill] but I had nothing to do with it," Mr Yule said.

"Nick Smith [MP] developed the amendment and it had nothing to do with Local Government New Zealand. It was only when David Carter came in as Local Government Minister that we saw the draft bill which has to go through a select committee."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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