Saturday, April 3, 2010
Owen McShane: Time to Return to One Layer of Local Government?
The sacking of the Canterbury Regional Council reinforces my growing sentiment that we made a great mistake when, as part of the Bassett reforms of Local Government, we abandoned the long standing tradition of having one layer of local government, but with this layer separated into two kinds of Council. We had District or City councils for the urban areas, and separate Countiy Council (with associated catchment boards and roads boards and other special purpose bodies) for the rural area.
This remains the norm in most of US states and in the few places that have adopted Metro plans (where there is Regional Govt with Cities embedded as a second layer) they experiencing the same problems as we are – especially unaffordable housing, and construction failures etc.
The problem, as I see it, is that by having a massive Regional Council such as Canterbury, which is strongly associated with the largest City Council (Christchurch) the population based formula for representation means that the interests of the urban population dominate decision-making. We have a similar situation in Auckland where Mayor Banks declares that he is the Mayor of Great Barrier Island – and of course he is.
I suspect if the water plans had been managed by county councils served by specialist Catchment Boards they would have worked things out by now.
We probably do not need two layers of local government – just two kinds of local government – Urban Councils and County Councils.
at 2:27 PM