Tuesday, 26 May 2020


TCDC mayor talking about a unitary authority

TCDC mayor talking about a unitary authority

The Waikato Property Council has recently published a proposed submission to the Local Government Commission in terms of which the Waikato region is to be divided into three unitary authorities, including the Thames Coromandel and Hauraki districts becoming a wider Coromandel council.
Thames Coromandel District Council mayor, Glenn Leach was invited to address the Waikato Property Council last week Wednesday 30 April. Mr Leach was the only elected member throughout the Waikato invited to the meeting.
Mr Leach told the meeting that TCDC will be supportive of a Thames-Valley unitary authority. He said Council looked at the direction central government was taking and knew they had to prepare for the possibility of a wider group of Waikato councils amalgamating and absorbing the functions of Waikato Regional Council. As a result, more decision making powers have been transferred to local community boards. Mr Leach also said that what they’ve done is working and other areas, including New South Wales, are now looking at implementing similar models.
In a follow up meeting with The Informer, Mr Leach spoke about WRC really being, what he called, “a third layer of bureaucracy” which is disconnected from the people of the Coromandel. “A good example is the Moanataiari subdivision in Thames,” he said. “WRC and the Ministry for the Environment took the position that millions of dollars’ worth of earthworks had to be done to mitigate a virtually negligible health risk because of contaminated soil. We stood up against them and won. The affected people were all WRC ratepayers and WRC did not go in and bat for them.
“I must say WRC has done much work since last year’s local body elections to get closer to the people of the Coromandel, but it’s too little too late.”
Mr Leach also spoke about the Waikato Mayoral Forum, an informal body made up of the mayors of all the Waikato area councils and the chairperson of WRC. “The Mayoral Forum really needs to talk about reorganisation of councils, but all they’re interested in is collaboration. They want councils to work together to save money. That’s fine, but you don’t need a forum for that to happen. Our joint refuse removal agreement with Hauraki District and Matamata Piako District Councils is a good example of that. The Mayoral Forum has recently spent more than $200,000 on someone to tell them that Waipa District, Waikato District and Hamilton City Councils have to manage their water together. A Form 2 student would’ve been able to work that out. It was a total waste of money.
“When I wanted to put discussions about reorganisation on the agenda at the Forum, I couldn’t even find a seconder. That really forced us to employ Morrison Low, a firm of local government experts, to tell us what the workable unitary authority options for the Coromandel are. They will report back to us later this year. I personally think we should also look at the Waihou and Piako Rivers catchment area, which is a larger area than just the Thames-Valley and we shouldn’t just focus on going south and west, there may be workable options down the coast towards the Bay of Plenty as well.   
“But one thing is sure, whatever is going to happen, our local democracy must stay.”
The Waikato Property Council will now attempt to get backing for its proposal through a public petition. If enough support is mustered, the proposal will be presented to the Local Government Commission.           


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