The proposal will, we believe, enable the region to better plan, take up regional opportunities and advance the interests of the region as a whole. When local government truly starts thinking, planning and acting as one region they will join most of everyone else including most of those in business who are already doing so. For most purposes the wider so called Nelson Tasman region is regarded as a single region. This is true in most media, for central government, general marketing, shipping, air travel, tourist marketing, economic and business development agencies such as the EDA and the Chamber as well as most professional bodies like the law societies, the courts (for high Court jurisdiction), national bodies like AA and many national franchise operations deal with Richmond and Nelson as a single urban area.
In our view the draft proposal and background information addresses the key areas the Chamber believed were worthy of investigation.
In particular, in our view, it adequately addresses the Chamber’s call for community representation. The strengthening of the powers and responsibilities of the community boards will ensure strong local governance. Most importantly it will enable us to move forward together and be good for the region as a whole. We have not identified any significant changes we wish to see to the draft reorganisation scheme. In particular we support the proposed number and make-up of the Council and Community Boards and the location of the Council Head Office at Richmond. We also support the continuation of Council physical presence throughout the region as is proposed.
While there should be cost savings from reducing two councils to one, a reduction in costs to many businesses who currently have to work under two different sets of rules and decision makers, and enable us to develop a credible regional voice, these are not the major advantages of amalgamation from a business perspective. The key benefit business members have identified is that we will have to think, plan, and act regionally – and by doing so we will maximise our opportunities as a region. The greater certainty that will come from singular truly regional long term planning will foster business growth and development. Decisions will be able to be made in the best interests of the whole region and to be implemented without being impeded by political or bureaucratic differences. This will be good for business vitality which is good for community vitality and wellbeing.
It is important that the structure is designed so that it encourages and enables the best out of the elected representatives. Many of our members and those we have discussed amalgamation with have stressed the importance of the quality of representation and the need for elected representatives to think and act in the best interests of the region as a whole. While we accept that effective relationships is at the core of effective governance, we need a structure that enables good governance in the interests of the region rather than the current dual structures which in many cases actively impedes regional governance. The proposedamalgamated council model will also provide a stronger voice for engaging with central government on regional issues and economic development initiatives.
The strengthening of community boards will alleviate current concerns that these boards are toothless. Decision making and the local application of regional policies should be delegated as much as possible to community boards. The effectiveness of these boards will depend on the quality of the elected representatives and empowering those representatives with the ability to make decisions on matters of local community importance.
We note that the pending Te Tau Ihu ( Nelson/Marlborough) Treaty Settlements will include a requirement for local councils to promote more formal relationships with Iwi. Therefore we believe the establishment of one amalgamated council is well timed and a more efficient and effective structure for improving Iwi engagement in local government strategy and policy.
The Chamber wishes to be heard in support of our submission.