New Hawke's Bay Council plan going to homes

By Lawrence Gullery

A plan for a new united Hawke's Bay council is being posted to every home in the region this week while a press conference tomorrow is expected to announce another plan to stop councils being merged under "anti-democratic" rules via the new Local Government Reform Bill.

A Better Hawke's Bay proposes one council with 16 councillors, eight each in Napier and Hastings, with five community boards representing Napier, CHB, Rural, Wairoa and Hastings. Another board could be formed as a "Maori leaders forum".

The group has decided to publish its reorganisation proposal for public feedback before sending it into the Local Government Commission in February. The commission is the organisation responsible for considering any plans to merge councils.

A Better Hawke's Bay chair Rebecca Turner said the draft proposal consolidated the region's four city and district councils, Hastings, Napier, Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay, plus the Hawke's Bay Regional Council into one unitary authority, "the Hawke's Bay Council (HBC)".

"Public debate over reorganisation will be aided by having a concrete recommendation on the table, alongside the benefits that would flow from consolidation.

"We see those benefits including substantial cost savings, more efficient and consistent dealings with a single council, and unified leadership to advance region-wide economic, social and environmental goals."

It will be responsible for all functions and responsibilities of the five existing councils.

"We propose that all existing council debt would be ring-fenced. This debate will unfold over the year, and ultimately be decided by a region-wide poll, which A Better Hawke's Bay strongly endorses and will work with all interested parties to ensure."

A Better Hawke's Bay is distributing a brochure outlining its draft proposal and the benefits of reorganisation to 55,000 homes throughout Hawke's Bay.

After reviewing public feedback, A Better Hawke's Bay will finalise its proposal and submit it formally to the commission.

Napier city councillor Bill Dalton has invited the media to a press conference in Napier on Thursday where it is expected the Hawke's Bay Democratic Action Association will be launched.

Mr Dalton's blog in December said the new Local Government Reform Bill could allow the commission to dictate to Hawke's Bay how it should be governed.

"There is no automatic provision for the people to have a say and that is wrong. It is so wrong that a number of concerned Hawke's Bay electors, who strongly believe that all Hawke's Bay citizens must have the opportunity to have their say on the important issue of governance, have formed an incorporated society to ensure that the people of Hawkes Bay do have their say.

"Simply put, the Hawke's Bay Democratic Action Association will work to protect the fundamental right of every elector."


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