Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says the Wairoa District Council is committed to the work of the Communities 4 Local Democracy group which is working with 32 local Councils.
Mr Little said the Wairoa District Council was a founding member of this group following the absolute disappointment in the way the government has bulldozed its way through the Three Waters process and Reforms.
“This occurred without consultation, despite the high level of community engagement that the government legislates local authorities to do.
“Councils were also told right from the start that they would have an ability to opt in or opt out of the process and this promise was also broken.
“Ours, and many other Councils’ disappointment, was also around the actions of LGNZ (Local Government New Zealand) which dropped the ball by only listening to the voices of Mayors from Councils which agreed with the Reform. Unfortunately, LGNZ then signed a Heads of Agreement that stifled LGNZ working on behalf of all Councils. Obviously not all Councils were in favour of this reform, and LGNZ should have ensured it was fairly representing all members by listening to the views of all Councils.
“Furthermore, it is unfortunate the government, under the cover of COVID-19, has continued to push for these reforms when there is such a strong tide of opposition.
“The Communities 4 Local Democracy group is bringing fresh ideas for better water and wants better services, local responsiveness and accountability, public ownership and meaningful mana whenua partnership arrangements that are appropriately tailored.”
“A key purpose is to implore the government to halt or pause the reform process to give local communities, iwi partners, local government and central government time to have genuine conversations about the future of the provision of three waters services and each of their roles in that.”
Communities 4 Local Democracy now comprises of 32 councils and is growing. It represents more than 1.6 million people from all over New Zealand.
The group believes it can do better than the ‘one size fits none’ proposals from the Government and can deliver better services while remaining affordable and locally responsive.
“The Communities 4 Local Democracy group is committed to working with central government to ensure all New Zealanders have safe and environmentally sound three waters systems.
“New research that shows Councils are better placed to deliver the Government’s Three Waters outcomes than mega-entity model. Analysis commissioned by Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori (C4LD) has concluded that both the council owned with stronger regulation, and a new Council Owned Enterprise (COE) model would perform better than the government’s proposal.
“Our focus is to ensure all local communities continue to have a say in decision-making around their assets, which are purchased on their behalf through rates, and how they are used.
“There was still the opportunity for central government to work in partnership with local government to create lasting change that delivers the outcome that everyone can support.
“We are not against change, but we strongly oppose this forcing through of massive reforms that are based on questionable evidence and analysis.
“Change is needed, but it needs to be change that doesn’t take away property rights and the community’s right to have a say.
“The alternative approaches we’ve developed are based on models that we believe can achieve broad support, and that deliver a better outcome for our communities compared to the governments oversimplified ‘one size fits none’ model.
“Ours is a framework for local government to work with its neighbours – with the support of central government – to transform three waters delivery for the better and in a way that all our communities can agree.
“We’re the experts in local service delivery and we want to drive that change, not have unsuitable solutions forced upon communities based on unsound evidence and faulty analysis.”
28 March 2022
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