The Horizons Regional Council will formally be known as the Manawatū-Whanganui Regional Council.

The name change will take effect yesterday the council long-term plan was adopted.

It was preceded by about 20 workshops, lots of debate and numerous public submissions, with the spelling of Wanganui/Whanganui one of the matters causing division. Adding the macron to Manawatū apparently prompted little comment.

When the matter came to a vote, Whanganui's Horizons councillor David Cotton was the only one to vote against the change. He said he personally favoured Whanganui, but was swayed by finding 208 submitters were against adding the "H", and only 104 were for it.

Advertisement

"How could I possibly vote to put it in when there was such a clear message from the community?" he said.

And he was dubious about the council using a formal submission process "to inform opinion", calling it a "flawed process". Some of the questions the council had asked were ridiculous, and some of the answers were from submitters who would not be paying the associated costs.

The council has decided it will not proceed with a regional facilities rate, something that would have been a new initiative.

When it was first suggested, all the region's seven mayors were in favour. It was to be $5 per property, and roofing Whanganui's velodrome, as a facility for the region, was to get the proceeds for the first four years — a total of $2 million.

The picture changed during the submission process, with some mayors wanting their residents to pay less, others wanting the fund to be contestable and Manawatū wanting $2 million in the first year.

When it came to the vote, five councillors were against; five were for it; and two, who had missed the submission hearings, abstained. Faced with making a casting vote, chairman Bruce Gordon asked the two whether they were for or against.

When he heard they were against he used his casting vote against the fund, and it was lost.

Meanwhile Horizons will begin rating $50,000 a year to go into a fund to buy, raise, change or remove houses from Whanganui's flood-prone Anzac Parade.

Advertisement

In the plan, the words "managed retreat" have been changed to "flood resilience" to cover options that include allowing houses to withstand flooding.

Horizons is to hold a by-election to fill the seat of Palmerston North councillor Pat Kelly who died recently, aged 81.

The regional council has also voted another $40,000 toward water partnership projects, bringing the total to $200,000 — "to meet the growing demand".

It decided to keep council representation the same, despite some councillors representing more ratepayers than others.

And it is taking steps to be a "greener" organisation by reducing its vehicle fleet, purchasing an electric car and making heating and lighting more efficient.