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Carterton pushes HQ bid

District HQ should be Carterton, says council. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

Carterton District Council has dug in its heels in a bid to nab the top office as it signed off on its Local Government Commission submission this week.

The submission was accepted despite some councillors saying that it missed the mark and was not as neutral as it claimed.

Under the commission’s draft proposal for a Wairarapa District Council, the ‘principal public office’ would be in Masterton but the new council could relocate the office.

Carterton council had previously stated it wanted the principal office because with the geographical size of the proposed district “a central location will be important both practically and symbolically”.

This submission goes beyond that to note a Carterton head office would make for a convenient five-minute walk from the train station for those needing to see the mayor.

There would also be car parks nearby.

The submission also claims ratepayers will get the best bang for their buck if they trade off assets in Masterton, where there is higher land value, and invest in a Carterton office.

“Both Masterton and Carterton have property that will potentially be surplus, depending on the decisions made about the location of a head office,” the submission reads.

“The relative value of the property should be a consideration in the decisions made about a head office location, so that ratepayers get the best value from any sales and investment in new facilities.

“Land values in Masterton are significantly higher than those of Carterton.

“If the leadership centre was created in Carterton then this would enable some of the property currently owned by the Masterton District Council to be made available for commercial use, thus creating economic opportunity.”

Another key issue addressed in the submission was lack of rural representation.

“We believe the rural wards should have at least two representatives.”

Other suggested options including introducing community boards into rural areas.

At the policy and strategy committee meeting, Mayor John Booth said throughout the discussions, which included three meetings, there had been times when councillors had agreed to disagree.

“That was always going to be the case on this because there are varying views around the table.”

He said he believed they had done their best to make a neutral submission.

“I think we have done a really good job.”

That was not felt unanimously around the table, as councillors Tracey O’Callaghan and Jill Greathead said the submission did not represent their concerns.

“I fully respect what John is saying but I am not in favour of this at all,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

It did not reflect her views, she said.

The submission appeared as if the council was in favour of amalgamation with a few changes, she said.

“I am totally in favour of the status quo.”

The pair produced a single page document that summarised the risks an amalgamated council faced and the risks faced by maintaining the status quo.

They both believed these risks needed to be addressed by the submission.

The risks listed included — the loss of control of local assets, major disruption of services during transition, disagreement on how resources are spent and decreased customer satisfaction.

Put to a vote, Ms O’Callaghan, Ms Greathead and councillor Mike Ashby wanted to see that information tabled.

However, their votes fell in a minority as most councillors were keen to put the issue to bed.

Councillor Rebecca Vergunst said they could not write a “small novel” and the current submission “does the job”.

Councillor Brian Deller said it was a really good submission.

They did not need to put more detail into it as the people of Wairarapa would decide in the end, he said.

The submission was adopted, despite the fact Ms O’Callaghan, Ms Greathead and Mr Ashby voted against it.

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