Why were alternatives not considered?
The Enhanced Status Quo should be evaluated. The out of date, ideologically driven amalgamation proposal based on speculated benefits and unreliable data and assumptions should be abandoned.
The Local Government Commission was so blinded by its ideological pursuit of amalagation that it didn't give any reasonable consideration to alternative ways of improving local government across the Wairarapa.
Is there a better way?
A better way needs to recognise that:
- Smaller councils are better at understanding and responding to the aspirations, needs and will of communities.
- Pooled services don’t require full amalgamations/mergers.
- The current scheme to amalgamate the three Wairarapa district councils is ill-conceived because it has been driven by management ideology and flawed research and assessment.
- The restructuring proposal is not aligned with the stated purpose, role and principles for local government set out in the law.
- The current arrangements for local government in Wairarapa present a golden opportunity for the LGC to explore a better way of achieving good local government.
Making what we have better - The Enhanced Status Quo
Given the lack of a strong fact-based case for change, the current three council arrangement for local government in the Wairarapa should continue to operate under its current structure. Along with the Greater Wellington Regional Council it should be challenged to focus, for the next five years, on significantly improving the current diverse approaches to providing cost effective, responsive, consultative, and community focused services.
In this progressive approach, the enhanced status quo, the Wairarapa councils would be responsible for proving themselves. The Wairarapa would pioneer an evidence-based and internationally endorsed better way for local government.
Under the enhanced status quo, the community could (among other things):
- Assess the costs and benefits to the community of outsourcing versus in-house service delivery considering the impacts on employment, rates and economic development.
- Explore the merits of overly complex debt-laden waste water systems versus simple cheaper systems on water quality and river supported life.
- Measure the differences between metered and non-metered provision of fresh water
- Test the community responsiveness and consultative effectiveness of ‘ward based’ versus ‘mixed’ versus ‘at large’ electoral systems
- Hold politicians and management accountable for meaningful cooperation on economic development, tourism and shared services where appropriate noting that Prof. Michael E Porter and others provide compelling evidence that an ecosystem of competitors cooperates better where it counts.
At the end of the five years it would be possible to formulate a need based and fact based proposal for any structural change necessary to enable good local government of the Wairarapa.