Councils need to show benefits of change


Changes to the Local Government Act are behind the sudden enthusiasm for council amalgamations but the PSA is urging caution, saying they shouldn’t go ahead without concrete evidence they will improve community services.

Local government

Tamati Paraone, Sheree Whaanga, Gary Gabbitas and Glenn Barclay

Over the past few months, the PSA has made submissions on merger proposals for both Northland and the Hawke’s Bay.

Acting national secretary Glenn Barclay, along with delegates Tamati Paraone, Sheree Whaanga and Gary Gabbitas, recently told a Local Government Commission hearing in Kaikohe that plans to amalgamate Northland councils weren’t supported by evidence and were opposed by staff when surveyed.

“PSA members working in Northland’s local government are uniquely placed to assess the needs of the diverse communities. They are concerned that the needs of Northland communities will be harder to meet in a more centralised system,” says Glenn.

“Local government exists to serve the needs of local communities, and amalgamation proposals must safeguard those needs.”

The PSA is not opposed to councils amalgamating if that’s in the community’s interests. However, given the cost and disruption for residents, the reasoning needs to be rock-solid and based on sound principles.

Those principles must include genuine community engagement, local ownership of public services, and the ability of council workers to maintain quality services and enjoy decent work.

Given the government’s push for local authority amalgamation, the PSA is working with delegates to refine our current policy so it continues to be fit for purpose.

 

This article is from the June 2014 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.