The fact ''that an hour apart we have two mayors, two lots of
councillors and two lots of chief executives'' is a reason
for the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago communities to
explore more ways to work together, Queenstown Lakes Mayor
Vanessa van Uden said.
Ms van Uden raised the idea of amalgamation at a candidate
debate earlier this week in Queenstown, telling those present
amalgamation was nothing to be afraid of. Speaking to the
Otago Daily Times, she said: ''I think it's something
that will probably be explored over time. I don't think it's
anything we need to be racing down the road to be doing.
''The question I posed was: 'Is there another way of doing it
that doesn't replicate all those costs to the community?' But
there's lots more to it than that.''
She said it would have to be something which ''comes out from
the community'' rather than being council-led.
''Believe me, it's not something I'm racing out to do,
without a shadow of doubt.''
Queenstown Lakes mayoral candidate Al Angus said he thought
the new council would be ''pretty good on our own'' and he
had not ''really gone into'' the idea of amalgamation.
Both Central Otago mayoral candidates said they would oppose
any merger with the Queenstown Lakes district.
Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper said the topic was ''not even
on the radar'' and he was opposed to any amalgamation with
the neighbouring authority unless he could see big savings
for the Central Otago district.
Central Otago mayoral candidate Lynley Claridge said if the
district was ''forced into'' a merger, the Wanaka part of the
Queenstown Lakes district had the most in common with Central
Ms van Uden said rather than immediately looking at
amalgamation the councils should be considering ways of
One possibility, which is in the early stages of discussion,
is for the Queenstown Lakes District Council, Central Otago
District Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency to
jointly manage the roading network.
''Right now, what we have got is Queenstown Lakes [with] its
own roading engineers that look after the management and
maintenance of the roads and we have a contractor doing the
physical work. CODC has the same and NZTA has the same.''
She said funding could stay exactly the same but the three
could work together ''and look at not making our contracts
work based on artificial boundaries''.
One possibility was it could mean there would not be a
difference between a state highway and a local purpose road
in terms of who did what but Ms van Uden stressed the idea
was still in its infancy.
She also referred to the recommendation to merge the Otago
rural fire authorities, which the Queenstown Lakes District
Council will discuss on Tuesday.
''You can't take away the service from a community. You still
need to deliver those services, but I think in terms of
making things affordable ... we need to be continually
looking for those opportunities to do it together.''