Public pitch in on governance

By amie.hickland@age.co.nz, Amie Hickland

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More than 1000 Wairarapa residents have given their opinions on the future governance options for the region.

The Wairarapa Governance Review Working Party called for feedback from the public with a deadline of February 4, although this was extended to Friday.

The deadline was given as the Wellington-based Local Government Reform Working Party had advised their submission to the Local Government Commission would be ready in April, and the Wairarapa group will only have 20 days to submit an alternative application.

Chairwoman Lyn Patterson was rapt they had received more than 1000 written feedback forms.

"We've gone out for feedback from our community, and what's so great about it is there's a whole range of views from people across our community, so we're absolutely rapt," she said.

Although she hadn't had a chance to read all the feedback yet, she had read a lot of carefully considered comments so far.

The feedback forms were targeted at those living within the three district council boundaries, although there had also been submissions from Wellington residents with properties in Wairarapa, as well as people in Eketahuna. The three councils had decided on a preferred option of a Wairarapa unitary authority before they called for feedback.

"I think having the preferred option that the three councils had collectively come up with was a starting point for people to discuss," said Mrs Patterson.

"It's such a complex issue that if you go out with nothing, how do people measure that?"

She said this was the biggest response to any call for feedback made in her five years as a councillor. "I've never, in my five years, had anywhere near this - so it's great," she said. "People have really put a lot of time and effort in and really considered it."

Mrs Patterson said the working party would report back to the three councils later this month.

A draft report by accountants Martin Jenkins on the facts and figures of the preferred option is also expected to be available later this month or early March.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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