The Wellington Regional Local Government Review Panel, led by former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has released its report examining the existing local government arrangements in Wellington and recommending a new proposed arrangement for future governance in the Wellington region. A copy of the report can be accessed here.
The Panel, which was commissioned by the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Porirua City Council, has recommended a total overhaul of Wellington's local government structure to address duplication, inefficiencies and the lack of coordination.
The Panel concluded that the Auckland unitary model could not be imported into the Wellington region as it has particular regional requirements, and emphasised that they are not recommending a super city, but an integrated system of governance, where power is divided and shared within the region. In focusing on the twin aims for the Wellington region, which are to provide strong regional leadership and enhanced local democracy, the Panel has recommended a local governance model for Wellington that will address the deficiencies that currently exist in the region.
The report recommends that the existing nine councils are disestablished and replaced with a two-tier structure. A new Greater Wellington Council, comprised of a Lord Mayor (although this title has now been abandoned due to public opposition) elected at large and 10 councillors, who would represent constituencies based on current territorial boundaries and carry out regional functions such as spatial planning, asset and financial management, and rating. The key new functions for the Greater Wellington Council would be:
- It would be responsible for producing a single district plan for the region.
- All regional and district council officers would be employed by the Chief Executive of Greater Wellington Council. This single unified administration would ensure that infrastructural and regulatory functions could be undertaken efficiently as all councils would be working in the same direction and would avoid duplication of services.
- While the Panel favoured the use of Council-controlled Organisations ("CCOs") for the provision of highly commercial council services, the use of CCOs in the region should be determined by the new Greater Wellington Council.
- The Greater Wellington Council would be required by legislation to establish a special committee that is responsible for guiding the development of Wellington's CBD.
Six Local Area Councils, which would carry out the local functions (such as resource consent processing, bylaws and licensing), and be organised on the same boundaries as exist now (except in Wairarapa where the Report recommends an amalgamation of the three existing councils). The mayors of these Local Area Councils would be elected by the councils themselves and not at large.
Click here to view diagram.
The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2012 contains provisions which enable the Local Government Commission to approve a two-tier model in Wellington and elsewhere.
The Greater Wellington Council and Porirua Council will consider the report and may use the report as a basis for a reorganisation application to the Local Government Commission.