Tagged: Amalgamation

Nothing like a little controversy

The Dam

The full council meeting on 19 February 2015 will be discussing the Waimea Community Dam and the use of the CCO. Those with an interest should read the agenda. This should be posted live on Monday (16 February) at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015.

Speaking of the Dam. There are many sources of crop failure. Drought is one. But it appears climate change is also bringing other extreme weather events that are just as likely to wipe out crops (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/65718201/storm-destroys-central-otago-apples).

Amalgamation?

In the immortal words of the castle, “they’re dreamin” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dik_wnOE4dk)

Amalgamation in 2018? Really?

In my opinion, we need more back room co-operation and synchronisation of operational systems and functions to make it cost effective. Given the experiences of dealing with NCC to date, that won’t happen in the time they have suggested (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/66138524/Plan-for-citys-future-laid-out).

Amalgamation is not a panacea. Empirical research suggests the opposite (http://press.anu.edu.au//agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html).

Tourism

An assessment of the Economic Development Agency, Nelson Tasman Tourism and Uniquely Nelson is being undertaken by NCC in its long term plan. This could lead to the creation of a single agency with an integrated approach to promoting and growing the city. I think I suggested this in a blog sometime ago and certainly endorse this direction.

Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings

I’ve never been in favour of traffic lights.

Nobody likes to stop. And that makes traffic lights or pedestrian crossings, quite dangerous for people.

In my opinion, roundabouts are more efficient and much safer.

Cars don’t race towards roundabouts, as they do amber traffic lights, and that can only be safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Plus, with roundabouts, drivers get to self regulate, rather than wait for a pre-programmed computer program to run through its pre-determined light phases, that is unable to know if cars are present or not.

But what if we made pedestrian crossing more fun … could that make them a little safer … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk

Freedom camping

I always found the title ” freedom camping” to be a very misleading label, given the attached conditions in the law.

On that note it’s interesting to read about other councils grappling with the same rules and their enforcement (see http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/332815/call-follow-resort-freedom-campers).

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Amalgamation redux – faltering at the first hurdle

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water – the amalgamation debate was recently sighted off the coast of Nelson.

More surprising is the fact it has been sighted less than 18 months after a public referendum had overwhelmingly decided the issue for Tasman residents (see earlier post). Clearly showing that there is little (if any) evidence of community support for amalgamation.

In my opinion, community support (or the lack of it) is probably going to be a major obstacle for any application given the recent referendum result in Tasman. It’s also the first hurdle of several obstacles. For that reason I am surprised any lawyer would have made such an application, knowing of such a hurdle, and with knowledge of the recent public referendum.

The relevant obstacle is set out in Clause 8(1) of Schedule 3 of the the Local Government Act 2002. Clause 8(1) states:

(1) If the Commission decides to assess a reorganisation application, the Commission must first be satisfied that there is demonstrable community support in the district of each affected territorial authority for local government reorganisation in the affected area.

To suggest recent local body elections some how show support for amalgamation appears to overlook all the other issues that Tasman and Nelson local body elections were concerned with.

In Tasman, debt and the amount of rates residents have to pay (in comparison to other regions) were the two main issues in the 2013 election. Further, one could also suggest (rather strongly), that the mayor’s re-election was actually a clear endorsement of the anti-amalgamation position that he had adopted, in contrast to the positions of other mayoral candidates, who had made compelling cases for change, but were defeated.

As with many things in life, timing is everything. And the timing of this application is far too early to clear the first hurdle.

See http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9535334/Merger-plan-back-on-agenda

Sitting around a bigger table – amalgamation, or not

I was recently asked what  my position was on amalgamation?

The short answer is that the community has already spoken (74.31% opposed amalgamation), so a new Council now needs to get in behind that decision and make it work.

But at the time that amalgamation was being considered, I was skeptical of the benefits being advanced. Especially in light of overseas experience and empirical research (see http://epress.anu.edu.au/agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html).

At the same time, Wellington was also considering amalgamation and interestingly one of the official options being advanced was a separation of urban and rural communities (ie excluding the Wairarapa) – a very similar divide between Nelson and Tasman (see http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9004929/No-benefit-in-merging-councils-report-finds).

There are also questions of the democratic process being degraded – a criticism of the Auckland experience.

Finally, there is a trend post amalgamation to focus future investment on the main centre of the region, which would have been Nelson, not Richmond.

So, the short answer is I did not support amalgamation at the time.

See http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/9017612/Councils-get-along-famously, http://epress.anu.edu.au/agenda/015/01/mobile_devices/ch05s04.html, http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9004929/No-benefit-in-merging-councils-report-finds