Last Modified: 10 December 2012
Upper Hutt City Council
The festive season seems to have snuck up on us and sparking lights, tinsel, and the big man in the red suit are popping up everywhere. The arrival of summer is a reassurance that a well-deserved break is near, after what has been a tough year for many.
The year has been dominated by the Government releasing outlines for reform in local government, known as Better Local Government. The Government made it clear that it wished to see changes in the way that local government was organised, the types of services provided, and how they are delivered. The process now involves clarifying the role of local government in the community and identifying opportunities for improvements in the way our services are delivered.
One consistency in all the discussion about the proposed changes to local governance in the Wellington region is that sharing some services between councils will lead to better efficiencies. Cross-council collaboration on projects, research, communications, and services happens to some degree already—and with success. There is little argument that this is beneficial for all parties, most of all ratepayers, who benefit from the expertise, professionalism, and knowledge otherwise not always afforded within an existing council resource pool.
There is, however, a massive difference between this level of collaboration and the proposed changes to the structure of local government in the greater Wellington region. The very aspects of our city that make us uniquely Upper Hutt may be sacrificed if we become part of a much larger council—our resilience, our innovation, our ability to react and respond, our flexibility, and our mana. Some of you (74.4% of 1,409 submissions) have already said very clearly that you do not want a change. An even greater number (83.5%) have said that you do not support the proposed amalgamation of councils in the region.
It is our duty to you to investigate all appropriate options and fully understand their impacts and benefits. We are committed to remaining transparent throughout this process and will look for the most effective ways of communicating to our community the process and outcomes of this investigation.
What everyone must remember is that the moment a person or organisation lodges an application to the Local Government Commission on reorganisation of their local government structure, it can trigger debate on the whole region. Change is likely and we will continue to be involved heavily in determining what that change will look like.
Our priority now is to investigate all possible options, and understand their benefits and impacts before making an informed decision that best supports Upper Hutt. The most desirable outcome is one where we retain our uniqueness, our innovation and creativity, and our responsiveness to our community.
While this work continues, over the New Year, many of you will be taking time out to enjoy Christmas or summer holidays. I hope you get out and about in Upper Hutt and enjoy what so many visitors to Upper Hutt celebrate—the richness of our parks and reserves, the river, tracks, and cycle ways. Have some fun! Spend time with the people you love doing the things that you love.
Thank you for being a part of the community that I love. I wish you and your family a joyous, relaxing, and fun festive season and a very happy New Year.
This message is in the latest issue of Valley News, for more information click here.