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Controversial Three Waters reforms need to be reset — that is the message being sent by the Dunedin City Council to the Government.
At a marathon meeting of the council yesterday, councillors approved a letter to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta calling for the Government’s contentious Three Waters reform programme to be reconsidered.
At a meeting of the council last Monday, councillors had quibbled over the content of the letter, before the matter was shelved to allow a more mutually acceptable letter to be hashed out behind the scenes.
The letter tabled at yesterday’s meeting was more strongly worded, and found more favour with councillors.
Concerns were raised about several parts of the proposed reforms, including dilution of the council’s ability to effectively fulfil its planning functions.
Mayor Aaron Hawkins said one had to think the Government had ‘‘misread the room on a reasonably substantial scale’’ regarding public appetite for the proposed changes, based on the feedback he and his colleagues had received.
‘‘The alternative is that they knew what the response would be and wanted us to carry the can for making that decision on their behalf, and it couldn’t possibly be that.’’
The council approved a raft of measures, including its approval of the content of the letter, by a margin of 14 to one.
The measures also included notes that the council was not committing to a particular position on its continued participation in the reform programme, and that it was committed to consulting the community in a meaningful way once more information was forthcoming.
A motion to invite Ms Mahuta to visit the council to discuss the reforms further was added to the recommended resolutions published before the meeting.
Cr Lee Vandervis cast the sole dissenting vote against the package of motions and said it was time to opt out from participation in the scheme.
‘‘We do not need more details, or more time for a pause.
‘‘We need to protect Dunedin’s major asset, to drop this Government’s takeover of our major infrastructure Three Waters investment, and to keep the financial and operational security we currently enjoy with our Three Waters.’’
Other South Island councils have voiced opposition to the reforms to various extents.
The Christchurch City Council is voicing strong opposition to the reforms in its feedback to the minister, and has said it is likely to opt out of the reforms in their current proposed form.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council said it believed cost savings to the district would be lower than the Government was touting, and community consultation would be required before they could proceed.