Move towards separate council

By Heather McCracken

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On Wednesday the nine councils in the region met for a hui to discuss local governance.

Reports from the meeting indicate that Wairarapa's delegation made a good case for a stand-alone council.

But we didn't hear that from them.

Afterwards, the chair of Wairarapa's working party on the issue, Lyn Patterson, told us with no apparent irony that the only person who could speak to media about the meeting was Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace.

It seemed that although our leaders were making a bid to have a separate Wairarapa authority, they needed someone from Wellington to talk about it for them.

Mr Wallace was a perfectly able spokesperson, and told us that Wairarapa's bid to be a unitary authority was well received.

But he was not elected by anyone on this side of the hill.

The first opportunity we had to hear from our leaders was at extraordinary council meetings held at each of the Wairarapa's councils on Friday afternoon.

Few were there to hear the discussion - one member of the public at Masterton, one at South Wairarapa, and none at Carterton. I'm not surprised, as few would have been aware the meetings were being held, or what decision was being made.

The councils have now, not surprisingly, backed moves towards becoming a unitary authority.

From here there'll need to be more discussion about how Wairarapa can realistically afford to go alone - and I hope we'll have opportunity to hear and take part in open and honest debate.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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