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Single council for Wairarapa proposed

By Amie Hickland

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Adrienne Staples-A grass-roots democracy has been proposed by Wairarapa's councils as discussions about the future structure of local governance in the Wellington region continue.

A working party of representatives of the three district councils and Greater Wellington Regional Councillor Gary McPhee has released its proposal for a single Wairarapa council.

The council would have an elected Wairarapa mayor, 12 councillors and five community boards.

There would also be two advisory committees - one for rural constituents and one for Maori.

Wairarapa mayors Adrienne Staples, Ron Mark and Garry Daniell said the working party was proposing a vastly different approach than the single Wellington council recommended by the Wellington Review Panel.

"This would be a council fully elected by, fully representative of, and fully accountable to, Wairarapa residents - a true, grass-roots democracy," they said in a statement.

Under the panel's proposal, Wairarapa would have a single councillor on a Wellington-based council, and become one of six "area councils".

The mayors said the proposal left only two realistic options for Wairarapa - a single Wairarapa unitary authority or becoming part of the proposed Wellington structure.

A Wairarapa District Council with a separate regional council would not be possible because the present regional council would be disestablished.

"Wairarapa now needs to decide whether it wants to elect its own mayor, councillors and community boards to govern Wairarapa's planning, assets, finances and services; or transfer all of that to Wellington and replace it with one Wairarapa representative on the decision-making body," the mayors said.

New laws about local governance structure are expected to be passed by Christmas, which has sped up the process with councils throughout the Wellington region considering their futures.

The working party is finalising its work, which will be completed after a hui with all Wellington and Wairarapa councils on November 21.

You can find information, have your say and ask questions on the working party's website www.wairarapasfuture.govt.nz and at district council offices in Wairarapa.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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