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Councils unite to oppose bill

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/09/2016

Councils are opposing a bill they say threatens local democracy.

The Local Government Act Amendment Bill has passed its first reading and is in front of a select committee.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) which represents all the councils, made a submission to the committee on Thursday.

It says the bill would give the government-appointed Local Government Commission wide powers to create council-controlled organisations (CCOs) to handle utilities like water and roading without first gaining support from councils.

"Of greatest concern is the possibility of CCOs being mandatorily created from Wellington," LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said in a statement.

"The bill poses a real threat to local democracy and the future of communities."

When Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga announced the reforms in March, he said they would enable councils to deliver better services to ratepayers.

"The reforms include more flexibility to collaborate and develop shared services, reoganisation processes that can be locally led and driven, and greater use of CCOs with improved accountability," he said.

The councils fear "flexibility to collaborate" could mean forced amalgamation.

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