Wellington residents are being misled

Upper Hutt Mayor, Wayne Guppy encourages residents to look for further information about regional governance options as the debate continues.

UPPER HUTT, Wellington NZ, 22 MAY 2013—Upper Hutt Mayor, Wayne Guppy, is calling for residents of the Wellington region to demand more transparent information about options for regional governance as consultation outcomes suggest a lack of understanding and manipulation.

“The public have a right to have a say and I support the Greater Wellington Regional Council alliance working party undertaking consultation,” says Mayor Guppy. “The issue with this process is that the line of questioning was misleading by not presenting all possible options, therefore manipulating people into selecting one of the two supercity models promoted by the alliance.”

Mayor Guppy also notes that the release of a separate survey conducted by Wellington City Council contradicts the results of the Greater Wellington Regional Council working party’s online consultation.

“The two surveys conducted simultaneously clearly show discrepancies, suggesting the process is flawed. The process of consultation should not be confusing, and all parties have a duty to provide residents information about all of the options on the table. They need to fully understand the benefits and consequences of each option before reaching a decision.”

Mayor Guppy believes that the alliance (led by Greater Wellington Regional Council, including Porirua City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, and Wellington City Council) and the group within that are specifically pushing for a supercity, are unduly influencing the consultation process by preventing robust consultation and releasing misleading results.

“Let’s not fog these results. Let the people of the Wellington region understand that if the Alliance is going to use these consultation results then they should be clear that they have been manipulated. The public were asked if they want a super city – a super city of one tier, or a super city with two. They received no choice about enhanced shared services across councils’; No choice about the creation of multiple unitary authorities; No choice about the status quo!

“There was clearly no choice – (the survey) was just based simply on a supercity option. To then have the audacity to say that x amount of people supported it – is dishonest!

“Robust consultation is essential in this important process and the views of residents should be informed, honest and transparent. The processes currently employed by this Alliance are effectively taking away the voice of its residents and steering them blindly into a governance structure that they may not necessarily support.”

“I agree that improving the governance of the Wellington region will be one of many things that will propel Wellington forward, but we must first ensure that our people are correctly informed.  They should not be bullied or steered.  It should be the communities who decide who will govern our region, not the ideologies of certain politicians”.

Starting on 28 May 2013, the Upper Hutt City Council will begin its second round of public consultation over options of local governance, in collaboration with the Hutt City Council. Mayor Guppy assures his residents that their processes will be fair.

“It is important that residents are given information on all options and the benefits and impacts of these on their community. All residents of the Wellington region deserve the opportunity to make a fully informed, democratic decision.”

Of the 800 people surveyed by Colmar Brunton in 2012, 71% Upper Hutt residents and 61% Lower Hutt residents indicated they wanted to remain the same or no boundary changes with more shared services. Of the 33% in Upper Hutt who indicated they wanted some change 46% wanted a combined Hutt Valley Council. Of the 39% in Lower Hutt who indicated they wanted some change 38% wanted a combined Hutt Valley Council.

Further consultation within Upper Hutt received 1409 submissions. With 83.5% of submissions received opposing any form of boundary merger.