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No 'super city' for Wellington - mayor

Monday 28 Jan 2013 8:27 a.m.

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Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown says it is "unlikely" her city will follow Auckland and adopt a 'super city' approach to local government.

Speaking on Firstline this morning, Ms Wade-Brown said the public underestimates how much cooperation there already is between the region's nine councils.

"Last year we did a survey – all of the councils, we all worked together so there's more cooperation than is often believed – of all the public," said Ms Wade-Brown.

"Fifty-eight percent didn't want the boundaries to change. It was only about 10 percent that wanted a super city.

"Unless that view of the public changes, there's certainly not going to be a super city in the immediate future."

She says the number of councils could be reduced to "three or four", but has concerns whether people elected to local boards would have decision-making powers, based on what she's heard about Auckland's 'super city' council.

"There are some issues of cooperation, but we work quite well together as mayors. The question is, can we reduce the overlap between the regional level and the local level so that you get real decision making from the people that are elected locally?

"From what I've heard so far, there are a huge number of questions about whether elected people will have decision-making powers."

Ms Wade-Brown said there isn't much demand for a 'super city' amongst councillors, with a few exceptions.

"I think there are a number of very vocal leaders, particularly [in] Kapiti and Porirua, that are wanting to explore that, but there are also a number that are very unpersuaded.

"The Wairarapa councils – and it does seem a little silly to have three councils over that side of the Rimutakas – they're absolutely convinced that there should be one council over that side of the Wairarapa. And from their initial consultation, it seems the people agree."

Some issues that affect the wider Wellington region have already been decided by central government, without the need for a super city, though Ms Wade-Brown doesn't completely agree with the choices they've made.

"The Kapiti Expressway has been agreed by central Government, and I think they're working through issues of purchase and minor design. I've not had any input into the Kapiti Expressway debate at all – it seems to have been pretty divisive up in Kapiti, though.

"I think there are some improvements that need to be done, and I think that rail needs to be improved as well, and greater Wellington's new trains are certainly making it a lot more reliable and quicker to get by rail as well. It needs to be a two-pronged approach – not just more concrete for roads."

Before the region looks at a super council, the public must be consulted, said Ms Wade-Brown.

"The most important thing is we put out some information on what it will cost, what the advantages could be, what the disadvantages could be, and it goes back to the public."

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