HASTINGS DISTRICT COUNCIL
I support amalgamation and a unitary authority.
I do not agree with all aspects of Lawrence’s proposed model, specifically it does little to reduce the number of Councillors and the cost of this. It does however provide the basis for discussion and as the community becomes engaged other models or modifications to Lawrence’s model will evolve.
My support for a unitary authority is based on three key areas:
• Economies of scale and the resultant cost savings
• A unified voice for Hawke’s Bay
• Simplicity and clarification of roles – one Council and one set of rules
During my time on Council there have been numerous attempts to promote shared services with little success. I was part of a Hastings/Napier working group that reviewed libraries. We recommended that they be amalgamated … achieving significant savings through economies of scale and improved services for customers. This was supported by Napier but not by Hastings. There are many other examples, some supported by Hastings and not Napier and vice versa. It’s a long list.
We can and should promote shared services and closer co-operation/joint committees; however, unless we amalgamate the organisations and the institutional cultures we will not get meaningful results.
To summarise, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
What Councillors and would-be Councillors need to be debating over the coming year is not amalgamation, but instead … why aren’t we getting the public’s business done better NOW? One of my concerns with Mayor Yule’s approach is that by seeking to make the coming 2010 election principally about amalgamation, the real issues that directly affect all our ratepayers will be ignored or minimised.
We have a long way to go yet on amalgamation. As long as the Rural Community Board is kept intact I could go along with it. I will make up my mind later when we have had good discussions and see what form it will take.
It was disappointing for Councillors to be broadsided again by a Mayoral announcement without regard, consultation or prior table debate, but as Mayor Yule would no doubt say, ‘That’s politics’.
It’s no secret that I personally feel three Governing bodies for Napier & Hastings is at least one too many. I have always considered that some form of absorption or amalgamation of the Regional Council was a first step forward, rather than a total East Coast Superpower as the preferred or only option.
Ultimately, I feel that it’s the quality of Governance that’s important, not the size. Perhaps before joining forces we need to tighten things up a bit. When comparing staff numbers, income, and number of Councillors between Councils, on the face of it, it would seem some economies can be made. Yet it’s not the number of staff that’s necessarily an issue … what’s of greatest concern is the profligate wastage of funds on projects or initiatives that provide little or no return that our children will be burdened with into the future. Perhaps a Super Council will address that…but it’s now up to the ratepayers to decide if that’s what they want.
Firstly, I don’t care too much for being pressured into things.
Yes I have my view on amalgamation of our Councils, but this is for the people to decide,
not me. We should not have it forced upon us.
Yes, the advantages a Unitary Authority speak for themselves, but to get all individual councils on the same page may be another question. For others to take on the present and future debt of HDC and also for the HBRC to share their power and wealth would be a challenge. The Napier people are proud of their city, parochial to the core, and this was expressed clearly at the last referendum. I would be surprised if there is change in that viewpoint.
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I hear from many ratepayers the catchcry “When are you going to amalgamate all three councils in HB”, so the discussion that Lawrence’s release will provoke, are timely. I personally feel CHB and Wairoa should be left out to retain their identity. The opinions will be mixed if HB Today’s quick poll (August 15) are anything to go by!
I am now, and have been for many years, in favour of a rationalization of local body politics in our region. For a population of our size to have a plethora of local body bureaucracy does not make sense. The recent outline of Lawrence Yule provides a suggested framework for the future. It is not a blueprint or a decree, it is simply a suggested way forward for voters to discuss and fine tune to the way they all want. We now have time to fashion the final solution ourselves and not expose the Bay to Central Government’s edict as we see in Auckland at present.
To be honest the Mayor’s announcement caught me by surprise. It was quite unexpected & out of the blue. The Local Government Conference I attended in Christchurch recently along with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor & councillor Rod Heaps, gave no indication that Government had intentions of duplicating the “Super City” concept else where in the country. Well, certainly not in public. Is this a case of doing it our way before we are forced into it? A case of jumping before we are pushed? One fear I have is that the Flaxmere’s of this world would become even more neglected with an amalgamation. There is certainly much to contemplate in the weeks & months to come.
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These are my generalised thoughts at this point in time, subject to change.
In my view, the long standing dynamics which drive Hastings and Napier centre around identity. Both Hastings and Napier are unique, yet rely on each other to add to their economic base and general attraction as a destination of national and growing International significance.
I think Mayor Yule’s proposal as I read it is a genuine attempt to address this issue in the hope of finding a “win win” and the details need to be teased out and scrutinized.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, what will the tangible benefits be to each community? I am sure this will be the major debate and when these issues are fully understood by the public and the quantum of benefits or otherwise are in the public arena, then I feel sure the public will make clear their preference.
I acknowledge there are many in both communities who will welcome this initiative, and i will be looking at all the issues with an open mind.
I haven’t been a great fan of the Napier/Hastings amalgamation, as I believe that the two Councils are quite different demographically. However, I am interested in further discussion about Lawrence’s proposed council structure, including Regional Council, as he has indicated that a distinct level of representation of each area would be a condition of any restructure.
I have also wondered about the efficiency of every landowner being accountable to two councils and having to deal with each one separately depending on what the issue is. Napier being in charge of all things Napier, and Hastings being in charge of all things Hastings, with a Unitary Council to reduce any potentially ‘top-heavy’ bureaucracy could be an option for the future.
NAPIER CITY COUNCIL
Napstings or Hastier?
After spending the first 18 years of my life in Hastings and the last 21 years in Napier, I welcome discussion of a unitary authority.
Issues for me are:
* fair representation of all communities of interest;
* economic benefits for a region where people are poorer than the national average;
* inclusion of our smaller neighbours;
* designated Maori representation;
* what our own people want.
In the 1950’s my Napier cuzzies taunted us with “Nay – PURE; Hay – STINKS”. Let’s show we are now grown up enough to work collaboratively, as equals, for the benefit of all.
I believe amalgamation is inevitable and when it happens it will be positive for Hawke’s Bay as a region. What I am against is politicians trying to promote a shotgun marriage to suit their own political agendas.
Simply put, a rushed, poorly thought out forcing together of the various authorities will be an expensive disaster for the region whereas a merger at an appropriate time and with the appropriate preparation will be cost effective and positive for the region.
… I am paid by Napier ratepayers and I will be making sure Napier interests are protected in the lead-up to and during the inevitable merger. As a proud product of Hawke’s Bay I have the interests of the region at heart. As a Napier City Councillor I have a responsibility to ensure my ratepayer’s interests are protected.
As it is 10 years since the last referendum, it’s time the discussion was held.
Whether it will be any more palatable to Napier voters remains to be seen.
The main stumbling blocks then were:
* Napier would have a minority of seats around the new table;
* Napier had no interest in taking on Hastings’ greater debt;
* Napier citizens felt they were happy with things the way they were and
didn’t see any need for change.
Unless these issues are addressed and benefits clearly identified, it is hard to imagine the vote would be any different than the 2 to 1 against at that time. As Mayor Yule says, the monetary savings are likely to be minimal.
The current Mayors and councils work closely on many initiatives, including Regional Transport, the environment, HB Cultural Trust; HB Airport authority and the current work in progress on regional growth. I think the perception of separation of local government is more imagined than real.
A few months ago Mayor Yule stated he had no thoughts on amalgamation, so why has this issue suddenly raised its ugly head? Either Mayor Yule has had an ear bashing by Rodney Hide or he needs a good re-election plank.
The three councils have a combined expenditure of approximately $200 million. If as stated by Mayor Yule there will be no job losses (except for two CEOs) and all three council buildings will be occupied, where will the 5% or $10 million in savings come from?
An independent audit of current and projected debt plus an audit on all infrastructure would be required to ascertain each council’s current position.
Lawrence Yule’s announcement that he will stand for the Hastings Mayoralty on a Unitary Authority platform in 2010 will undoubtedly make for an interesting, essential and timely debate.
The early 2012 date he proposes for the referenda gives the citizens of both cities plenty of time to make an informed decision.
The 1999 referenda recorded a clear majority of Hastings citizens in support and a clear majority of Napier voters against amalgamation.Ten years ago I was one of the 25% of Napier residents supporting a unitary authority. I was not a elected member at that time and believed that a divisive island mentality was impeding our region from achieving its true potential.
My subsequent council experience and a much-improved inter-council working relationship has caused me to moderate those views. Cost savings from amalgamation appear to be minimal if service levels are to be maintained, and the outcome must be measurable broad-based improvements. The major areas that need streamlining and aligning are each council’s planning and regulatory functions, but this could be achieved by one district plan and fee and by-law consistency.
Since existing debt must be serviced by existing ratepayers an equitable servicing apportionment would be essential as Napier’s net public debt per ratepayer is substantially less than their counterparts in Hastings. If the transitional committee chose to disregard that fact, then a “Yes” to amalgamation in 2012 would no doubt trigger a commitment to some major projects in Napier before the 2013 election for a Unitary Authority.
In the past few years the world has been inflicted with several “pandemics.” “Sars” … “Bird Flu” … “Millennium Bug”… “Swine Flu” are only some that come to mind.
The latest seems to be “Super City Syndrome”.
Its origins apparently started in Auckland New Zealand with the “Rattle of a simple man’ Rodney Hide. In the matter of a few short weeks he alone managed to infect the entire current government of NZ, so they hastily decided to bulldoze Auckland into a “Super City”.
The symptoms of “Super City Syndrome” are delusions of cost savings, efficiencies and a genuine belief that all things bigger are better (and small is the exact opposite). Also distain for those that dare disagree with them. They also truly believe that they alone have the monopoly on wisdom, and everyone will be led by fewer highly paid leaders into the land of utopia where everything will cost less.
First indications were that the epidemic would be confined to Auckland and that measures were in place to stop it spreading to the provinces. But, like “Swine flu” it was not to be. It has already infected one prominent HB leader and the only HB newspaper, HB Today, which itself is a poor example. Since it was amalgamated with Napier’s The Daily Telegraph & Hastings’s HB Herald Tribune, it has failed miserably to live up to promised expectations. If one looks at HB Today it is only a shadow of its predecessors due to the amount of trivia masquerading as news and the cost of advertising sky rocketing, thus being a classic example of how a monopoly functions (i.e. no competition).
The cure for the “Super City Syndrome” is yet unknown, but advice is perhaps a good dose of common sense, clear thinking, understanding all the facts, and consultation with the general population. For those who have severe symptoms, therapy may help, but, unfortunately for them so afflicted, they will sadly never be completely cured.
The debate for a Hawke’s Bay super council is a healthy one and on the face of it the proposal has some good plausible points. At the end of the day, all points of view need to heard, draw up a plan, then it should be the people of Hawke’s Bay, by way of a referendum, who should make the final decision. It should not be forced upon them by central government, as was the super city council on Auckland.
Having grown up and lived in both Napier and Hastings, it is obvious that we have two very special and different communities forged by different environments and histories. It’s those differences that make Hawke’s Bay unique.
I am still to be convinced that amalgamation will either translate into a better financial deal for our ratepayers or better representation. Big isn’t always better. Napier and Hastings already co-operate in many ways. Before we go racing down the “ Super City ” path, maybe we should explore other cost saving opportunities and ways of working together.
Let’s wait and see if the Rodney Hide model for Auckland is the success it’s being trumped up to be. I have my doubts. There are so many serious issues to consider. Until I can clearly see positive advantages for our community, I would be against amalgamation. However, in the end, it will be the citizens of Hawke’s Bay who decide.
This is a decision that should be made by the ratepayers. If they want a council like the one outlined by Mayor Yule, then they should get it.
There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before the public will know the full facts to make a decision. It was very clear the last time a referendum was held that Napier people did not want this. I believe at the least a lot of policies, standards and services should be dealt with as one for both cities. This is taking place at the present and Napier is encouraging further development in these areas.
We can only guess the financial implications for costs in the long term to each city and really need to know more to make an informed decision.
It would appear from the very broad outlines of this amalgamation that there is representation throughout each city and suburbs, which would be a definite requirement. Maybe Hastings with a larger population might have the more powerful voting power, but let’s see, and as I have said, get all the facts so the right decision can be made.
A question may be asked: does the rivalry between the two cities make us both better cities? I wonder. I certainly look at this with an open mind.
I’m relaxed about Mayor Lawrence Yule’s proposal. It did come somewhat out of left field and caught a lot of us by surprise, as it had been suggested that a watch-and-wait approach be taken to see how the Auckland Super city model worked.
However I believe there can be no smoke and mirrors on amalgamation. The people of Hawke’s Bay (and especially the people of Napier) need to see the advantages of a Unitary Council. Napier City Council has been fiscally prudent and run a pretty tight ship in the past few years. It has low debt levels and is financially sound. Having the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council brought into the mix may make things more palatable for Napier people, as they are the cash cow of the Region.
Having a referendum in 2012 to test the waters on what the people want is a good idea.
I welcome the debate, but at the end of the day it is up to the people of Hawke’s Bay to decide this – not politicians. I personally don’t believe that bigger is always better and unless I am convinced that significant savings and efficiencies can be made that will benefit everyone, and that representation will not be a casualty of the proposal, I will not support it.
HB REGIONAL COUNCIL
I am convinced, after fourteen years at district council and regional council level that Hawke’s Bay would be better off by millions of dollars a year and would be run much more efficiently as a single entity. The one proviso is that we would need a functioning independent press to scrutinise the larger body to stop it becoming a bigger monster than its component parts. And we would need an audit department that does more than pull out files and make sure they conform to government policy guidelines.
Begin by appointing one manager for all five of the roading departments in Hawke’s Bay. Then bolt the departments together. Follow that by doing the same for water supplies, libraries, sewage systems, parks and reserves, rates collection, dog control and finance. Set up a single planning entity for the region and one computer network. This kind of consolidation is already happening with Civil Defence.
When all the systems are ticking along nicely, assuming they haven’t been sabotaged by vested interests, the citizens might look about them and realise that, yes, life is not so bad with just the one council, one administration, and one set of rules for all.
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule’s announcement to stand on an amalgamation ticket is bold and far sited. This is urgently needed. It is vital that Hawke’s Bay’s local government is more efficient, less fragmented and provides essential regional leadership right now.
I am sure my fellow councillors will vehemently disagree but the region suffers terribly from petty parochial interests, rank inefficiencies as well as the dominating interests of our local bureaucrats. The duplication of administration, planning, roading, engineering, vehicle fleets, computer resources is a crying shame that no business could stand.
The new unitary authority should hold all public assets and employ all staff. There only needs to be one long term plan, one spatial plan, one district plan, one rating system, one rate bill and one voice for Hawke’s Bay … Savings to Hawke’s Bay ratepayers could be between $5 and $10 million. Central Hawke’s Bay and Wairoa District Councils involvement will be fiercely resisted by the politicians but the ratepayers should be the ones to decide. They are currently paying for councils that cannot be sustained.
Now more than ever Hawke’s Bay needs to “grasp the nettle” and push for our own local governance changes. While wholeheartedly supporting Mayor Yule, I believe a much more streamlined and urgent timeframe is needed. All ratepayers should be given the opportunity to vote on amalgamation next year and an interim council put in place for a 12 month period leading to voting in a united council in 2011.
I have publicly advocated amalgamation for years (Ed: most recently, HB Today, 17 August). Yule’s proposal is right on as far as I’m concerned.
I think there are two good reasons to amalgamate: 1) To save money; 2) To improve service.
Apparently amalgamation won’t save money and in some cases costs more. Also, numbers of representatives will decrease, so ratepayers will have less say. Up north, locals complain of being ignored after amalgamation, and travelling far for inferior service. What happens to debts, HDC?
Of course we do need to work together better, and look at ‘spatial’ planning – holistic and truly regional.
Reorganizing councils sounds like a total bun fight. Personally I would prefer just now to concentrate on doing the job we are supposed to do, protecting the environment.
The issue of Governance for Hawke’s Bay is important and it is right that it should be debated.
However, the matter should be a transparent process and open for submission by all citizens and organisations that have an interest in the Region. A final decision on what form of local government Hawkes Bay has should be determined by public referendum.
Although I am not opposed to some reform of our present structure, I would seek to have enshrined in any new system the specific functions of protecting and enhancing the environment that currently are undertaken by the Regional Council.
As a Councillor, I have to respond with suspicion. Does amalgamation necessarily lead to efficiencies? It is time to revisit Parkinson’s Law. You might have only 1 CEO (and see the comments by Telecom as to why you pay them megabucks in spite of failing performance) but under them in order to manage all the “communities of interest” you create a new bureaucratic layer of senior management. After all the same amount of roads need maintaining, the same amount of flood protection is needed. 5 councils are all doing something different … not necessarily duplication.
As a ratepayer – well my suspicions are even greater!
Eileen von Dadelszen
I have been engaged, as a planner, citizen and elected representative, in many discussions about local body governance in Hawke’s Bay. As a regional councillor I supported the Local Body Study in the mid-nineties. This provided up-to-date evidence about the Region and I support further development of that information. I have consistently argued that as long as an elected body retains clear responsibility for the governance of environmental and “big picture” issues in the whole region, and has sufficient sustainable funding to carry out those responsibilities, then to me the structure or name of that body is immaterial.
The time is right to explore this issue again with the reform of Auckland Local Government in full cry. However, we need to be careful any proposal is formed on principles that due diligence has highlighted as regional benefits. In a nutshell, we have the potential for a diminished community voice and increased costs with amalgamation for the sake of amalgamation. Northern Hawke’s Bay is a key part of the region; yet on the face of it, I see little benefit in our issues being swallowed up or dismissed by a larger HB Council. Let the community give us some direction.