Napier elections to proceed despite uncertainty

By Corey Charlton corey.charlton@hbtoday.co.nz

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The Napier elections will go ahead as scheduled this year despite current uncertainties regarding possible council reorganisation and mayor Barbara Arnott's announcement she will not be seeking re-election.

Under the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill, local body elections can be delayed for up to a year if there is progress being made towards governance restructuring.

However, with any final restructuring proposal in Hawke's Bay not expected until early next year, the 2013 local body elections will go ahead as scheduled.

Lobby group A Better Hawke's Bay have submitted a proposal for council amalgamation which would see Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Central Hawke's Bay and Hawke's Bay Regional councils merge.

The Local Government Commission is currently accepting alternative proposals to this for consideration.

Last week the Hawke's Bay Regional Council voted 6-3 for an alternative proposal, which would see the creation of an East Coast Regional Council that encompassed Horizons' Tararua Ward and Wellington's Wairarapa Ward.

This came as a shock to Wellington council chairwoman Fran Wilde, who said the proposal had "blindsided" her.

Ms Wilde, a former Labour MP, said she was surprised by the Hawke's Bay move to take over what she considered "three-quarters of Wellington region".

"I was blindsided by it actually and it just came out of the blue. We had no idea anyone was thinking about this," she said.

This plan is subject to final clearance by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council on May 1 and the Local Government Commission deadline for submitting alternative reorganisation proposals remains May 3.

Donald Riezebos from the Local Government Commission yesterday confirmed it had yet to receive a submission from Hawke's Bay Regional Council but he was aware of it through media reports.

When contacted on Friday, A Better Hawke's Bay declined to comment on the Regional Council's proposal.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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