One Northland Council a win-win for local decision making and regional prosperity
12 November 2013
The Local Government Commissions proposal to unify the four councils of Northland to create a single Northland Council unitary authority achieves the best balance between promoting local decision making and meeting the long term needs of the regional community, says Stephen Selwood of the NZ Council for Infrastructure Development.
Northland is currently confronted with a number of sizeable challenges and the region often features at or near the bottom of national social-economic indices.
NZCID research shows that lifting regional productivity requires strong central and local government focus and full participation and engagement with the private sector, iwi and local communities.
It requires leaders committed to long term vision and planning, unity of purpose, ability to fund, effective regulation and the expertise to implement strategy.
The option proposed today by the Commission will see the Mayor of Northland and nine councillors deliver that leadership and vision in partnership with seven community boards and a Maori Board.
Community Boards will reflect the diversity of Northland and be empowered to make decisions on matters directly affecting their respective communities.
A future transition agency will take on the question of whether major council services, such as transport and water, are best performed in-house or by an independent council controlled organisation.
A single unitary council for Northland provides the best of all worlds the opportunity for unity of purpose focussed on realising the full potential of the region; the development of one regional plan; a single governing body to work in partnership with government and the private sector, the provision of scale in the delivery of roads, water services and regional infrastructure; and most importantly, the retention of strong local democracy and representation for iwi and communities.
In short, this is a win-win for local decision making and regional prosperity and is a potential template for regions across the country, Selwood says.