Hasten slowly and get it right

By Gary Caffell

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Take the foot off the pedal. That's the message I would give those shaping the debate for local government reform in Wairarapa.

Any moves to amalgamate our three district councils should not be made before every possible option has been carefully analysed and costed.

As should always be the case when you are making decisions which will basically change the course of history.

Coming to hasty judgments simply because we may be beaten to the punch by some rival isn't good governance, pure and simple. In fact, it would be downright irresponsible.

What first must be identified is that the ratepayers of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa will be better off, both financially and in the service of quality provided.

There can be no ifs and buts on either score.

Giving long spiels about how a certain proposal is clearly the way to go and then in the next breath admitting you have no idea what it will mean rates-wise simply won't cut the mustard. Folk don't want to be involved in guessing games when the stakes are so high.

It is my firm contention that, even if it takes another couple of years or longer to come up with a plan which answers all the important questions, then we should be prepared to wait that long.

Why can't we simply tell central government (and the Local Government Commission) that, while we do see several advantages in our three councils undertaking some kind of merger and are keen to head in that direction, we don't want to put forward our "preferred option" until the figures stack up.

On the face if it that would seem a very reasonable request and, when you consider another general election is looming on the horizon, you would have to think that those in Wellington would see the merits of it.

Delaying any decision would also allow for those stakeholders (and that includes Joe and Jill Bloggs) who have already proffered varied opinions on what should happen in Wairarapa to band together and work towards a common solution.

Treading carefully is absolutely, positively good sense in my book.

Gary Caffell is a Masterton district councillor.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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