One council mooted for Northland

By Peter de Graaf

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LGC chairman Basil Morrison.
LGC chairman Basil Morrison.

Northland's four councils are set to be merged into one Northland-wide unitary authority.

The new authority, to be called Northland Council, was announced by the the Local Government Commission (LGC) in Waitangi today.

It will have nine councillors elected from seven wards to make sure the new council is not dominated by Whangarei. The mayor will be elected by the district as a whole.

The Northland Council will also have seven elected community boards and two Maori boards, whose members will be appointed by iwi and councillors.

Unlike the the local government reforms of 1989 and the formation of the Auckland Super City, however, the LGCs proposal is not a done deal.

The draft plan is now open for submission and once the final plan is ready Northlanders can force a binding poll. All that is needed for a referendum is a petition signed by 10 per cent of registered voters in any one of Northland's three districts.

The LGC'ss plan resembles the Northland Regional Council's proposal but adds Maori advisory boards.

LGC chairman Basil Morrison said the announcement was made in the Far North because the FNDC, along with iwi leaders, was the first out of the blocks when a law change made local government reform possible.

The draft proposal states that Northland Council would come into existence on November 1, 2015, following the first election in October 2015.

The headquarters would be in Whangarei with nine service centres throughout Northland.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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