Letter to the LGC requesting abandonment of proposal

In early July, after the close of submissions, Wairarapa Voice wrote a letter to the chair of the Local Government Commission asking him to abandon the the Draft Proposal for a Wairarapa District Council. In the view of Wairrapa Voice, the Draft Proposal failed to meet the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 as specified in Schedule 3.

The key points made in the letter are:

  • The proposal fails to meet the test that "any proposal to change the structure of Local Government must result in increased efficiency or effectiveness does not appear to be met by the draft proposal."
  • The proposal does not define with any level of specificity the Wairarapa local government problems or opportunities.
  • It does not specify the gains that would flow from the proposed structural changes.
  • It does not identify and quantify the risks from adoption of the proposal that would pass to ratepayers.
  • As presented to the public, the draft proposal is superficial. The proposal speaks with authority that is not justified. It is short on detail and is not supported by facts, the LGC’s own working papers, or its research and consultations. The nature of these deficits and omissions is such that the draft proposal lacks the levels of disclosure and objectivity necessary for ratepayers to make informed decisions on its value.
  • Closer examination of the proposal reveals:
    • 1. Errors, omissions and assumptions in the financial data and projections including:
      • a. Inaccurate transition costs and an inadequate quality of work on the identification of IT costs.
      • b. The omission of any assessment of the impacts of Masterton’s membership of the LGFA on the ratepayers of Carterton and South Wairarapa.
    • 2. Planned decreased levels of representation and the exposure of the ratepayers of Carterton and the towns of the South Wairarapa to domination by the Masterton District ratepayers and representatives.
    • 3. The proposed creation of a central bureaucracy in Masterton, the most Northerly town of any size in the Wairarapa, and the extensive consolidation of operations. There is only speculation that this rearrangement will deliver benefits and there is no plan or evidence that specific improvements to service delivery efficiency and effectiveness will be realised.
    • 4. The proposal appears to assume that bigger is better. This is not supported by any adduced evidence and when the operations of the GWRC in the Wairarapa are considered it can be strongly suggested that the opposite is true.

Conclusions

  • The draft proposal of the LGC does not identify any significant current problems or specific opportunities for local government efficiency or effectiveness gains for the Wairarapa.
  • Many of the assertions made in the draft proposal are not supported by facts.
  • The draft proposal weakens local democracy.
  • The governance and delivery of Wairarapa wide services does not require structural change. There is already an abundance of history in the Wairarapa (and elsewhere in New Zealand) of area wide service delivery and problem solving that has not required top down imposed
  • structural change.
  • Based on our analysis of the current LGC proposal and our collective knowledge of the Wairarapa and its communities, we continue to hold the view that the current proposal will not improve the efficiency or the effectiveness of local government in the Wairarapa.

Accordingly, we consider that the Commission should not proceed with its draft proposal.

 

Text of the Letter to Chair of the Local Government Commission (PDF 130kB)

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