25 Sep 2018

Golden Bay considers seceding from Tasman District Council

12:30 pm on 25 September 2018

Golden Bay is considering a partial separation from the Tasman District Council.

Golden Bay is considering separating from the Tasman District Council.

Golden Bay is considering separating from the Tasman District Council. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

A working group has been set up to gauge support for a break-away board of elected members that would give the community of about 5000 more power to make local decisions.

Tony Lawton, a retired banker, is now secretary of the working group looking into whether Golden Bay could be run by a local board.

He said it might ease some of the tensions that had built up since change was forced upon them by local government reform in 1989.

"Historically, Golden Bay did have its own council and it was merged with a number of other councils into the Tasman District Council.

"As part of that, the Local Government Commission set up two community boards."

Mr Lawton said replacing the community board with a local board would give Golden Bay more of a say in how it was run.

"For identified, specific local issues, the decision-making is by the local board. Under the current community board, it can only make a recommendation to the Tasman District Council, and they decide the matter."

Local boards could only be set up in unitary authorities, such as Tasman, and neighbouring Nelson City Council and Marlborough District Council, plus Gisborne and now Auckland.

The Local Government Commission said so far there was only Auckland to use as an example of how they operated, and it was providing information to the Golden Bay working group.

A senior adviser at the commission, Gavin Beattie, said any change could have implications for the wider district.

"There's a question, if an application did come to the commission, whether it should look at local boards in other areas of Tasman District."

Mr Beattie said depending on the functions a board might take on, such as the running of community facilities like parks and libraries, it could lead to more targeted rates.

"There's provision through that local board agreement process to agree on a targeted rate to vary the level of service, related to the services and functioned allocated."

A change to a local board structure could also alter budget lines and how much the council earned each year in rates, especially if triggered other local boards to be set up around the district.

Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne was encouraging the community to explore its options, but said there was a better way.

"People interested in this should be looking … what additional delegations could be given to the (existing) community board, and if they want to, have a discussion with council about that."

Mr Lawton said that had not been an option in the past.

"Community boards are effectively meant to represent the local community they are elected from, and as part of that they should have certain decision-making powers over certain issues, but that's never been delegated to the community boards."

The working group had created an online survey to gauge local interest in the idea of a local board.

A petition was also circulating to get the 500 signatures needed to support an application to the Local Government Commission.

  • Takaka Hill road to be repaired by 2020
  • Takaka grandstand to remain, community group takes reins