As you’ve probably noticed, BayBuzz has been conducting an online and mail survey on attitudes toward possible councils’ consolidation … sometimes called amalgamation.
At this point, 342 people have responded, with 56% from Hastings (voting residence), 42% from Napier and 2% from CHB.
Jumping right to the bottom line, as respondents understand the issues right now, 85% agree that “some kind of consolidation might be prudent (including 75% of Napier respondents), while 14% think “our present structure is probably the right one.
49% support combining the four territorial councils (Hastings, Napier, CHB & Wairoa) plus the Regional Council, while another 21% support combining just Hastings, Napier and Regional Councils.
73% agree that “While more cooperation would be helpful, that’s not sufficient to deal with the challenges we face.” And only 26% believe “In fact, councils are already cooperating in significant ways.”
The most persuasive reasons for reorganization: providing one vision and voice for the Bay (72% strongly agree), saving ratepayers’ money by reducing duplication (71% strongly agree), and strengthening clout with central government (66% strongly agree).
Chief concerns respondents have about reorganization are: burden some communities with debt of others (49% agree or are not sure), local communities might lose voice/identity (47% agree or not sure), and might cause rate increase (40% agree or nor sure). Note that in each case, majorities do not share these concerns.
The Government is proposing that a simple majority in the entire region could permit reorganizations to occur, as opposed to the present provision where majorities in each affected district must approve (or the reorg fails). Our respondents agree overwhelmingly (69%) with the Government proposal (57% of Napier respondents agree).
The BayBuzz survey was included in the March/April BayBuzz magazine, which is distributed primarily in Hastings and Napier (in fact this edition was ‘over-weighted’ distribution-wise to Napier). We expect that respondents would tend to be individuals who are particularly ‘energized’ — one way or the other — by the potential of reorganization. But effectively the surveys were random — anyone could have picked up a copy from our ‘take one’ stands throughout the area and responded.
Overall, the results indicate that a significant base of support for reorganization exists in both the Hastings District and Napier.
P.S. You can view the complete results here (for online returns) and here (for mail returns). Unfortunately the mail responses need to be manually entered separately, so the consolidated results must be calculated by merging the two.