16 May 2012

Wairarapa mayors back merger

7:16 pm on 16 May 2012

Wairarapa mayors are backing calls for the region's three councils to merge, saying it would be better than being part of a Wellington supercity.

An independent report out on Wednesday is recommending the Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils combine to form one ruling body.

The report, commissioned by the three councils, considered five different models ranging from the status quo to forming a supercity with the six other Wellington councils.

But it says the best option is one Wairarapa council, which would save money through sharing services and give the region a more powerful voice.

Mayor of Masterton Garry Daniell is for the proposal saying there is no appetite from the 40,000 people of the Wairarapa to be part of a super-city.

Local bodies across the country have been reviewing the way they are structured as part of a Government initiative to make councils more efficient and transparent with money.

Carterton mayor Ron Mark says change is inevitable and the councils are willing to give up a lot to make it happen.

The Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce says a single council would also benefit businesses.

Chief executive Stephanie Gundersen-Reid says business people are becoming exceedingly frustrated with the different rules between the three councils.

South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples also agrees with the merger in principle, but says further work needs to be done to make sure it is viable.

The new Wairarapa council could be in place in time for local body elections next year.