West Coast to keep four councils

After three years of debate and research, the West Coast will keep its four councils - but get one district plan.

The entire process started in August 2015, when the Local Government Commission agreed to assess a reorganisation application lodged by Anthea Keenan and Peter Salter and supported by a petition with 367 signatures.

The commission slowly moved away from changing the councils themselves, and today issued its final proposal for a West Coast combined district plan.

"The commission has concluded
the proposal will promote the purpose of local government by way of achieving a good quality district plan for the West Coast while still allowing for local responsibility for local variations,'' Local Government commissioner for West Coast Reorganisation Janie Annear, said.

"We believe it will also assist improved economic performance on the West Coast.''

The draft proposal had very positive support around most of the Coast with some opposition in parts, Mrs Annear said.

The Buller council had concerns over it.

"We respect the position of all parties, but the commission has a duty not only to act in the best interests of each district, but also in the interests of the West Coast as a whole."

The combined district plan would have the advantages and efficiencies of scale and shared resources. It also allowed for local differences.

She acknowledged that the process had taken a long time but that it had been important to get it right for the West Coast.

The West Coast District Plan Committee will comprise a mayor/regional chair and one councillor from each council, two iwi representatives and an independent chair (as recommended by the transition board).

It will have the power to act to prepare and adopt a combined West Coast district plan in accordance with the Resource Management Act.

The West Coast Regional Council will be responsible for funding district plan development; individual district councils will be responsible for funding future plan changes involving local variations in their district.

Once the Order in Council is signed (about mid-October) and the members of the transition board have been appointed (including independent chairperson), the transition board will be able to meet.

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