Commission to conduct options survey

Date: 12 October 2017

As part of the West Coast reorganisation process, the Local Government Commission has commissioned a survey on public support for existing and potential new local government arrangements in the region. The survey, to be conducted by a leading market research company, is designed to assist the Commission assess the “reasonably practicable options’’ and arrive at its preferred option for local government on the West Coast.

Local Government Commissioner Janie Annear said that while the Commission had carried out extensive public engagement on the West Coast in 2016, it wanted to get up-to-date information on public support for possible options before making its decision.

“It has been more than a year since we last engaged with the community on these matters,’’ said Mrs Annear. “Officials have done considerable work on other factors in the meantime, but West Coasters will have had more time to consider possible change and we now wish to see how they might feel about different options.’’

Among the options on which the Commission will be seeking feedback through the survey are: no change, which by law must be included for consideration; two or more of the councils are merged; creating a full unitary authority combining district and regional council functions; or the existing councils remain as they are but with some services – resource management planning, for example – transferred between councils.

As part of looking at change options, the Commission is considering how to ensure communities could have a full voice in local affairs through, for example, local boards under a unitary authority option with legislated powers to represent those communities; or community boards with delegated powers for any proposed district council mergers.

The research is being done through a UMR telephone survey and will begin on Thursday 12 October.

“This will be just one of the inputs into the Commission’s decision-making process,’’ said Mrs Annear. “Others include extensive communities of interest work carried out by staff, a consultant’s investigation into financial and operational aspects of the various options, and previous engagement with the West Coast councils and communities.’’

She said the Commission hoped to be able to announce its preferred option by the end of the year.

If the preferred option is the status quo, the process ends and the councils on the West Coast remain unchanged. If a change option is preferred, the Commission will prepare a draft proposal and consult further with the West Coast community before deciding whether or not to issue a final proposal.

Brief history of the application

  • In August 2015 the Local Government Commission agreed to assess a reorganisation application seeking some change to local government arrangements on the West Coast
  • The application was lodged by Anthea Keenan and Peter Salter and was supported by a petition with 367 signatures, including significant numbers from each of the three districts
  • The Commission began a series of visits to the West Coast including meetings with the applicants, and the region’s mayors, councils and other stakeholders to understand the region’s issues
  • In March 2016, separate to but alongside progressing the reorganisation application, the Commission and the West Coast councils signed a relationship agreement to collaborate on two regional efficiency initiatives: regional roading arrangements and joint RMA planning
  • Between the end of May and early July 2016 the Commission ran an extensive community engagement programme on the West Coast to help gauge levels of community support for change in local government arrangements
  • The Commission delivered two regional efficiency reports to the West Coast councils in February 2017.
  • Between July 2016 and September 2017 the Commission carried out detailed communities of interest work and commissioned a consultant’s report into financial and operational aspects of possible options. 

Media contact:

Simon Cunliffe | Local Government Commission

DDI +64 4 474 8164 | MOB +64 27 809 3833 |