21 Aug 2014

Candidates debate council merger

7:43 am on 21 August 2014

The National Party is opposing the amalgamation of Wellington's nine councils, but there is widespread support among other major parties.

Wellington cbd

Candidates debated whether Wellington's councils should be amalgamated. Photo: PHOTO NZ

At a candidates debate on Wednesday, representatives from five parties were questioned on their stance on Wellington's major issues. Representatives from Labour, the Greens and United Future supported merging the councils.

Wellington Central MP, Labour's Grant Robertson, said he thinks amalgamation would help bring the region together, but does not believe it should be forced upon anyone.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said amalgamation needed to happen sooner rather than later, to get local government services where they are most needed.

"It's three years now since we've been talking about this, at least, and we're stagnating. I think we've got to make change and we've got to move to make sure we can bring it in in time for the next local government elections."

National's Hutt South candidate, Chris Bishop, said while some aspects of a merger would be positive, he was not convinced it is a wholesale solution.

"Having one water system, that makes a lot of sense, but whether or not we should go so far as to get rid of all the councils - I think that's a bit of an open question and something I'm a little bit sceptical about."

Mr Bishop said his constituents were scared the Hutt Valley would lose its voice if councils were merged.

The Internet party was also represented at the debate.