War of words over invitation

By Andrew Bonallack

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Carterton mayor Ron Mark said Wairarapa mayors would "keep talking" with the Local Government Reform Working Party but is adamant their offer of participation has no substance.

Porirua City councillor Ken Douglas, who chairs the working party, said he was disappointed by reports that Mr Mark, South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples, and Masterton mayor Garry Daniell believed they were not invited to participate in discussions concerning local government reform.

He said that was not the intention of his letter, sent on December 21, which calls for a meeting to share information and discuss issues in common.

Mr Mark described the invitation as "patronising" and called it a "Clayton's offer".

"We will not be sitting at the working party table with equal status," he said.

"Our request was for full participation.

"The same say, the same voting rights, and to be able to participate equally and fully along with everyone else in the 'western' working party."

He said he and the other mayors had worked hard for two years, consulting their people.

"We've got our plan over here, but our plan could fit into a greater plan."

Mr Douglas' letter of December 21 had acknowledged Ms Staples' expression of interest to Greater Wellington chair Fran Wilde in working with the "western" working party. He replied that the "western" working party was set up for councils with similar views on the preferred local government, a single unitary model for the region.

"The working party has not made any decisions about the inclusion of Wairarapa in that model because there are differing views on this," Mr Douglas said.

Mr Mark said it was obvious the working party had made up their minds.

"They don't want anyone at the table with different views.

"Obviously our view doesn't fit, so we are to be patronised and talked to, but not listened to."

Asked if they would still attend a meeting, he said "we will still talk" but he needed to discuss the issue with the other mayors.

Hutt City mayor Ray Wallace said they had responded to Mr Douglas and were keen to "work in the best interests of the region".

They were not going to be in the working party, he said. "Only 3 per cent of our community voted for one unitary authority."

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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