Message to the Beehive: stop messing with local democracy

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Local councils should run their communities the way ratepayers think is best - and laws giving Wellington more power to override them should be abandoned, the Public Service Association says.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay has told MPs the latest Local Government Act reforms should be shelved until the relationship between central government and councils is clarified.

The Local Government Act Amendment Bill No 2 will give the Minister wide-ranging powers, and delegate too much power to the Local Government Commission.

It would be able to initiate proposals for council amalgamations and multiple-owned Council Controlled Organisations - which Mr Barclay says will take decisions out of ratepayers’ hands.

"The PSA is also concerned about the plans for shared services, which we’ve seen in several other areas our union covers," Mr Barclay says.

"We don’t oppose them in principle, but research shows they seldom produce cost savings - and our members worry their communities will miss out as services are centralised.

"Invercargill City Council has already begun a spirited campaign, saying Wellington doesn’t believe Southlanders can make their own decisions.

"The PSA believes locals know what’s best for their community, and central government needs to trust them to make the right calls.

"We call for all local government reforms to be put on hold until there’s a proper discussion of the relationship between the Beehive - and council chambers across the country."