Date: 16 April 2013
Thirty-nine individuals, organisations and groups have responded to the Local Government Commission’s call for alternative applications regarding the reorganisation of the Northland Region.
The Commission issued a public notice in early March calling for alternative applications after the Far North District Council applied to combine regional and district council responsibilities in one body: a unitary authority.
The 39 responses are now being assessed by the Commission and are as follows:
Alternative applications are required to meet certain legislative requirements. For example they must explain what the proposed changes seek to achieve; the potential improvements that would result; and how the changes would promote good local government. Alternative applications are not the same as a public submission. The opportunity for public submissions occurs at a later stage of the process, if the Commission decides to prepare a draft proposal.
The Far North District Council application covers only the Far North District Council. However the Local Government Commission considers the application also affects Kaipara and Whangarei District Councils, and therefore all of the Northland Region. The Commission determined that the formation of a unitary authority in the Far North District could materially affect the operational scale, scope and capability of other councils and could ultimately thus affect residents and ratepayers in the Northland Region.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Local Government Commission, Donald Riezebos, said the process for changing local government structures, boundaries and functions is set out in Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002. Mr Riezebos said there are a number of distinct steps that must be followed and the process in relation to the Far North application is:
In any event, no change would be made before the next local authority elections in October 2013. Guidelines on the reorganisation process are available at www.lgc.govt.nz
There are five unitary authorities in New Zealand: Auckland, Gisborne, Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman. Auckland is the most recent council to combine the two levels of local authority functions. The others became unitary authorities at varying times: Gisborne 1989; and Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman in 1992. The Chatham Islands Council also effectively operates as a unitary authority, as it is not within a region.
All other local authorities in the country work under a two tier framework of regional and district councils which have separate regulatory and planning responsibilities.
Chief Executive Officer
Local Government Commission
Phone 04 494 0657
The Local Government Commission is an independent body tasked with making decisions on local authority electoral matters and all applications relating to changes to existing boundaries, functions and areas of local authorities. Its members are appointed by the Minister of Local Government.
The legislation governing reorganisation of local authorities, Schedule 3 of the Local Government Act 2002, can be accessed here.