CHB urged to get behind amalgamation plan

By Lawrence Gullery

Two former councillors and a former mayor fronted up to the Central Hawke's Bay District Council yesterday to argue in favour of merging the entity with the region's four other local-government organisations.

Former Central Hawke's Bay mayor Trish Giddens, with former Central Hawke's Bay councillors David Tennent and Di Petersen, wrote to the council's annual plan supporting, in principle, A Better Hawke's Bay's proposed merger of the Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, CHB and Hawke's Bay regional councils.

Waipukurau Civic Theatre owner Jim Shand had also added his name to the letter and the four were to present their submission to the council's annual plan hearing in Waipawa yesterday.

The group said amalgamation in some form was inevitable and working alongside the Hastings District Council, which supported a merger, might deliver the best solution for CHB people "... by creating a stronger voice in any negotiated amalgamation, thus being our best protection from the uncertainties of a forced amalgamation".

A working party should be set up to meet regularly with a similar group from the Hastings council to work out common interests, goals and objectives.

A joint working party would identify other benefits from an "enhanced management structure" and service delivery. It would also signal opportunities for savings in regulatory functions and compliance costs imposed by the Government with the aim of the five councils merging.

CHB Grey Power also submitted to the annual plan, worried about the impacts of amalgamation. Its report, written by Pam Durham, said members thought a merger might mean some amenities and services would be moved or no longer available.

These included the Waipukurau heated pool, libraries and access to internet, as well as local access to council administration to pay rates.

After amalgamation, would these amenities be relocated to a larger urban centre, it asked. If so, transport could become an issue for older people.

CHB Grey Power said the loss of such amenities and services would make the district a "less desirable" place for older people to live.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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