Sixty-five percent of respondents to a Chamber of Commerce online survey gave full or qualified support to the local government amalgamation proposals as proposed prior to Christmas by the Local Government Commission. A further 10%, while not supporting the existing proposal, supported an alternative model for change.
Chamber Chair, Liz Koh, said this is remarkable support for reform given the lack of public information. “This is a complex issue and the public are seeking guidance in the form of simplified analysis and debate” she said.
The survey found that 47.5% of Kāpiti Chamber of Commerce members supported the proposal in general. A further 17.5% supported it with some changes. Only 20% opposed the proposal and a further 10% would like an alternative model for change.
The Chamber itself does not take a view on the draft proposals, but we do share considerable concern that the process of ‘consultation’ is short and much valuable time has been lost over the summer break. Furthermore, we are concerned that while some local bodies have spent hundreds of thousands of ratepayer funded dollars objecting to the proposals, the general public have been denied a public information programme that puts the arguments for and against the amalgamation proposals in an independent and impartial manner. Of particular concern to the business community is the issue of differential rating and we need to see analysis of the potential impact of a change in the rating system on economic development and more detail around transitional arrangements for Kāpiti.
The Local Government Commission is seeking submissions on their ideas, and these close in two short weeks on Monday March 2.
The Chamber urges KCDC residents to make submissions as if the proposals are to proceed they require ‘demonstrable community support’.
This is a very serious and important issue and should be debated more widely and information provided to the community about it. It is probably a once in a generation opportunity to consider the potential benefits of being part of a larger and more manageable entity.
Liz Koh said she shares her members’ concerns that the potential benefits will be lost because the public never really had an opportunity to get a handle on the issues – not even a simple brochure.
“It’s a hard ask to expect that the community will somehow get enthused enough to log onto websites and read turgid reports. The Commission has failed the public in this respect,” she said.
The Chamber has invited Franklin Local Board Chair Andy Baker to Kāpiti on 26 February and he will make a presentation titled ‘Local Boards What are they and are they effective’. Media are invited to meet with him at lunch that day at the Library. Details and registration at www.kapitichamber.org.nz