Deadline looms to have say on single council

By Mike Dinsdale

2 comments
Donald Riezebos
Donald Riezebos

More than 150 submissions have been made on a proposal for a single unitary authority in Northland, with three weeks still to go for people to make their views known on the controversial plan.

The Local Government Commission (LGC) last month announced a draft plan to replace Northland's four local authorities - the Whangarei, Kaipara and Far North district and Northland regional councils - with one authority from November next year.

Another option for local government reform could be considered but only if at least 10 per cent of voters from any of the affected councils - about 1300 in Kaipara, 5400 in Whangarei or 3700 in the Far North - sign a petition calling for a referendum.

Submissions on the draft proposal for one authority close on February 21 and LGC chief executive Donald Riezebos said on Friday that 157 submissions had been received so far.

"We do hope residents and ratepayers take this opportunity to act for the future and make a submission on the draft proposal," he said.

Before the commission made any recommendation for change, it had to be satisfied a new structure would promote good local government, Mr Riezebos said.

A single Northland Council would share power with seven elected boards. The boundaries of the council wards and the community boards would be structured to protect the voices of diverse communities.

Service centres would be based in nine towns - Kaitaia, Rawene, Kaeo, Kerikeri, Kaikohe, Kawakawa, Ruakaka, Mangawhai, Dargaville - and in Whangarei city.

A Maori board and Maori advisory committee would help the new Northland Council meet its obligations to provide opportunities for Maori to contribute to decision-making.

Similar arrangements existed at Greater Wellington Regional Council and Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Mr Riezebos said.

Northland Council, including community boards, would have 52 elected representatives, one for every 2974 people. Current arrangements have four councils and 61 elected members, or one for every 2615 people.

The Whangarei District Council has rejected the proposal and is surveying residents before making its submission. The Northland Economic Action Group wants a single local government authority.

- Northern Advocate

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