The future of local government in the Wellington Region and the Hutt Valley will be decided very soon – a proposed super-city is dead in the water…
by Peter Petterson
There has been a lot of discussi0n about the future of local government in the Wellington Region. A section of people – those who have had some past power and influence wanting to push the Super City barrow. Aucklanders never went out, discussed and sought an Auckland Super City – it was imposed on them by power brokers. It should never have been so big and should not have included the North Shore. It has been influenced by central government all the way through. They have claimed that big is good – more people the better. Of course, the Auckland Super City has not finished developing. It can only stop with the election of a left of centre government. There may be some areas that will wish to secede from the Super City. But that is Auckland’s concern and problem.
Now back to the proposal for a Wellington Super City: In recent times the three Wairarapa districts have made it clear they have no desire to become part of a Wellington Super City – it would not benefit the Wairarapa in any way they claim. They want a United Wairarapa District. Kapiti has indicated that they,also, have no desire to join Wellington. The small and lightly populated Porirua City have indicated that they would support being part of an enlarged Wellington City. What about the Hutt Valley? Right from the outset there has been strong opposition to the concept of a Wellington Super City. But the two Hutt cities said they would go away and discuss the proposal. They have considered the pros and the cons. They are totally opposed to a super city concept.
The results of two surveys were released in the last few days. Most of those polled preferred the status quo of the two councils – Upper and Lower Hutt cities. However, the second most popular option was a joint united council with even more shared services. A Super City ran a distant third, like the length of the Trentham racetrack straight, in both polls, which drew a combined total of more than 7000 responses. Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace claimed this would stop a super-city in its tracks. There are 150,000 people in the Hutt Valley, the biggest area outside of Wellington City,and a clear message has been given.
Both surveys were held during a three week period from late may to mid-June, so are clearly up to date in opinion. Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said the response was unprecedented – a clear indication ofhow determined residents of both Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt are to have a voice that will be heard above the noise emanatiog from Wellington City.
Both councils will meet seperately during the next week to discuss the wording of a submission to the Local Government Commission.
A Hutt Valley community survey reportedly drew more than 6000 responses, while a Colmar Brunton survey polled a further 1000 responses. Sixty six per cent of Hutt Valley residents surveyed wanted the status quo, and thirty four per cent a United Hutt Valley Council. Just six per cent want a super-city in the Wellington region. In the Colmar Brunton poll 50% favoured the status quo, 28% a Hutt Valley United Council and just 18% a super city. Four per cent were undecided.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council is pushing for a two-tier super city with eight local boards. Wellington City wants a single-tier super-city combining all the regions existing councils except the Wairarapa. Six councils now oppose a super-city – Hutt Valley, Wairarapa and Kapiti.
As Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace suggested, the super-city is dead in the water.
As a longtime resident of Lower Hutt, I have been pushing for an amalgamated Hutt Valley Council for close to a decade – it should have been amalgamated with all the other amalgamations back in 1989. A single voice will enable better investment, planning,support and influence from within and without.