Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Waikato Regional Council drafts shake-up plan

Hugh Vercoe. Photo / Janna Dixon
Hugh Vercoe. Photo / Janna Dixon

A plan to reshape Waikato's local government structure is being devised by the regional council.

The council's elected members will hold a workshop with staff to work on formulating a plan for the new-look governance. The workshop will not be open to the public.

But the council's plans to take a lead role in the restructuring could be squashed as early as next week when they are unveiled to the region's mayors and their chief executives.

The regional council's plans come as Parliament's local government and environment committee visits Hamilton on Thursday to hear submissions on the Local Government Reform Bill.

At Thursday's workshop, the regional council will consider whether it supports community or regionally based local government and if services such as waste, wastewater and roading need to be considered separately.

The councillors will also watch a video from the Rethinking Local Government Conference at Lake Karapiro early this month which sent a strong message Waikato's governance needed restructuring.

Waikato Mayoral Forum chairman and Matamata-Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe said he invited the regional council yesterday to present its discussion paper to the mayoral forum next Monday.

"The Waikato needs to act collectively for the benefit of the region. The forum has been established to allow this to happen with local government with all parties having input."

In March, Waikato mayors gave the regional council a warning that any suggestions for the region needed to be run by them, after it made recommendations - without their knowledge - to the Local Government Minister at the time, Nick Smith, on a structure that would give the regional council greater control and powers.

"It's my personal view that if we within local government don't look at possible future structures, change will be forced upon us by government and other parties that may not necessarily be the best outcome," Mr Vercoe said.

The councils have committed $100,000 to investigating shared services and have not broached the subject of amalgamation.

- NZ Herald

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