The Local Government Review Panel (Panel) has presented its final report 30 October. The Panel, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, was commissioned by the Porirua City and Greater Wellington Regional Councils to investigate local government reform in the Wellington region and identify the best option. The Report follows extensive consultation and public meetings with stakeholders, including local residents and ratepayers, and it includes detail of the themes arising from that public engagement.
The Report recommends change to Wellington's local government structure to address duplication, inefficiencies and the lack of coordination. The Panel notes that Wellington seems to have "lost its way". As a result, the Report recommends a new Greater Wellington Council be established, led by a Mayor elected by the region, and six Local Area Councils, to manage local issues and maintain strong democracy at a community level. This two-tier governance structure is said not to be based on Auckland or Brisbane, and instead responds to the particular needs of communities in the Wellington region. Other recommendations of the Report are:
- a single rating system for the region;
- rates increases restricted for three years; and
- councillors limited to three terms of four years each.
The Report will be considered by the commissioning councils as part of their response to central government's intended changes Local Government Act 2002 on how local government operates and manages its business. Further information on the Panel and the full Report can be accessed here.