Wilson slammed for jumping gun


Hawke's Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson is taking criticism "on the chin" from his counterpart in Wellington after a plan to set up an East Coast super council was released this week.

He said he understood why Greater Regional Council chairperson, Fran Wilde, was wild at hearing news of the proposed council before it came officially from Mr Wilson.

"I rang her straight afterwards and quite rightly she was upset and I take that on the chin. I rang all of the mayors and Bruce Gordon from Horizons Regional Council.

"This idea is not new though and Fran knows that it's been kicked around for ages. Ngati Kahungunu have talked about it for years, going back to reform in 1989."

Mr Wilson said he was surprised his council voted 6-3 in favour of his proposal to ask the Local Government Commission to consider an East Coast council.

"The reason I put this forward has to do with the function of the regional council.

In the A Better Hawke's Bay proposal, I can't see anywhere which explains how the environmental guardian ship role of the regional council would fit in a combined unitary council and still attract the same level of financing and funding to make it happen.

"There is a lot of science and long-term thinking involved which is expensive. Lake Tutira, being one example, which is a 40-year fix, it's not going to happen overnight."

Mr Wilson said Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa geographically shared the same land and environmental issues.

"It's a natural fit for regional council function. Fran can talk about people, all the social history and she is correct that in that way Wairarapa is connected to Wellington but not when it comes to regional function.

"Once she has settled down, we'll talk because I know her council has done a lot of research on this."

Mr Fenton agreed there was a short time frame to prepare the research needed to submit the proposal to the commission before May 3.

Regional councillor Neil Kirton voted against the proposal and said merging Wairarapa with Hawke's Bay "made no sense at all".

He said the proposal had no details about how many councillors would be needed and what the wards or staff capacity would be.

"It is even worse than that because there is no research done at all for the proposal.

"It is simply an off the top of the head reaction and a last minute bid for the current regional council to get itself in front of the commission with an alternative."

Mr Kirton said the proposal would damage the regional council's credibility with the commission, if it wanted to submit any more proposals.

"In my view what we've done is dissipate our credibility by putting up something that is nonsensical, with no research and I think the commission would be well within its rights to discount anything regional council offers in the future."


- Hawkes Bay Today

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