Wellington lord mayor could halt city's decline: Geoffrey Palmer
Former Labour prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer hopes a lord mayor for the region may see it stop living on its "past glories".
Sir Geoffrey, who is also chairman of the region’s local government review panel, has released his final report into Wellington’s future.
He recommends a new Greater Wellington council be established, led by a lord mayor and six local area councils.
Those local area councils would manage local issues and would be designed to “maintain strong democracy at a community level”.
The change would see 28 fewer elected representatives in the region and cut the number of council chief executives to just one.
Sir Geoffrey says the new proposal is not a super-city structure and is not based on Auckland.
“It’s focused on addressing the duplication, inefficiencies and lack of co-ordination in the Wellington region’s current local governance arrangements.”
He has also rejected Brisbane’s single-tier approach.
This is how the new integrated two-tier structure would look:
A regional decision-making body named the Greater Wellington council, led by a lord mayor elected by the whole region and 10 councillors, representing constituencies based on the current territorial boundaries.
The proposed distribution of seats is:
- Lord mayor, elected at large 1
- Central Wellington 4
- Lower Hutt 2
- Upper Hutt 1
- Porirua 1
- Kapiti 1
- Wairarapa 1
There would be a local tier of decision-making in the form of six local area councils, using the same boundaries as exist now, except for Wairarapa, where the three councils would combine into one.
The six new local area councils would be responsible for local engagement and advocacy, improving local amenity and design, managing local community facilities and parks, and the delivery of quality local services.
Each local area would retain a mayoral figurehead, elected by their councillor peers.
Sir Geoffrey says the Wellington region seems to have lost its way in recent years and he hopes the new recommendations can halt the economic decline.
“A decade ago, the Wellington region was recognised as being at the forefront of governance, vision and place – with new development initiatives, including the Westpac Stadium, Wellington waterfront, Te Papa, Pataka, the Dowse and Expressions.
“We had forward-thinking planning and urban design approaches – award-winning village planning and main street upgrades.
"We saw new cultural events and innovative marketing: Martinborough wine, Absolutely Positively Wellington, the Sevens and the World of Wearable Art.
"There was the foundation of a new and exciting film industry in Miramar.
"Today, there is a feeling that the region is living on these past glories.”