INDEPENDENT NEWS

Mandated Water Reform Confiscates Local Accountability

Published: Wed 27 Oct 2021 11:03 AM
Timaru District Mayor Nigel Bowen has today expressed extreme disappointment with the Government’s decision to mandate its Three Waters reform.
Mayor Nigel Bowen said that today’s announcement is a sad shift away from the principles of local ownership and accountability.
New Zealand’s social wellbeing should be underpinned by high-quality drinking water and reliable and safe wastewater and stormwater systems.
“We and our predecessor councils have invested strongly in our local water services over the past century on behalf of residents and we’re proud of our record,” he said.
“Timaru District has some of the best drinking water in the country, wastewater is properly treated and discharged, and stormwater systems are resilient.
“We remain committed to continual investment in our services to ensure that residents have the services they need and industry has the water it requires to grow.
“While we support the overall aim of the reform, we don’t think that the Government’s chosen model will deliver these aims.
“We also support the right of our communities to hold us accountable – in fact, we think it’s crucial.
“When a pipe bursts in someone’s street or a stormwater drain is blocked, our residents know who to call. And if we don’t fix the problem then our residents also know who to blame.
“Our biggest issue with the reform is that it confiscates the accountability that all residents should be able to demand from their local authorities.
“After listening to the overwhelming response from our communities who don’t want local control taken away, we cannot in good faith support this model.
“However, we know that to make change, we have to have a seat at the table. In that regard, we are pleased to see the Government acknowledge the fundamental flaws with its reform, and intend to work with them to see if our concerns can be remedied.
“With the establishment of the working group, we hope that the Department of Internal Affairs forms an honest and open working relationship with Local Government rather than the opaque and seemingly predetermined exercise we’ve seen so far.”
“For the good of our community we have the expectation that the promised changes will be meaningful and deliver real local representation for people, rather than just be another PR exercise dictated by Wellington.
“Ownership in name only is a disservice to our residents and we hope genuine changes can be made to the reform for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”

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