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Regional Council notes

November 6, 2020 November 2020, Regular Features No Comments

The recent election has delivered a very different political landscape for New Zealand.  With a single party in power, that party has the mandate to deliver on its election promises and no smaller parties to put the handbrake on its chosen path.

At least one of those election promises has serious ramifications for local government.  On page 19 of the Labour Party Manifesto you can read that “Labour will reform New Zealand’s drinking water and waste water system and upgrade water infrastructure to create jobs across the country.”  The bit about creating jobs is a sweetener for a move away from localism to a much more regionalised way of delivering our water and waste water services.  The word is that these services will move into five or six regional stand-alone water bodies across the country. 

Now most people don’t actually care about what organisation delivers their water and removes their sewerage as long as it remains in public ownership and works well.  The trouble is that while the larger delivery model may work better for water services, one-size-fits-all regional decision making doesn’t always work for other matters. This can be seen in the proposed Wairarapa Solid Waste Management and Minimisation Bylaw 2021.  

“The Carterton, Masterton, and South Wairarapa district councils are working together to adopt a bylaw that is consistent throughout the Wairarapa, and aligns with those in the wider Wellington region,” says the consultation document.

“It requires the preparation of an event waste minimisation plan (for approval by council) for public events of a significant scale (an expected attendance of 1,000 or more people over its duration) that will generate waste (exceptions apply). The intent is to encourage better planning and management and minimisation of waste and to ensure adequate provision is made for waste management facilities and services for events.”  

One can assume that a fee will be charged for checking this plan which provides just another bureaucratic hoop for Wairarapa’s event organisers to jump through.  

Now obviously we all want Wairarapa’s waste to be well managed and kept to minimum but given that so many of our local events are run by volunteers is this really necessary?  What about the ANZAC Day and Christmas parades; Martinborough Fairs, Daffodil Day and Wings over Wairarapa? All of these have well over one thousand people attending.  Do we really have a problem or is this regional alignment an over-kill for our situation and just another opportunity for a new consulting industry? 

The face of local government could well change over the next three years but whatever shape it takes we must stay vigilant to ensure it remains working for us and not the other way around.

(Check SWDC Council Agenda 28 Oct for full paper on Proposed Waste Management By-Law.  Consultation closes 30 November)

Adrienne Staples

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