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Published: 2013-09-09 00:00:00

Issued on behalf of Waikato Mayoral Forum
The Waikato Mayoral Forum has today approved a new strand of work aimed at better alignment of council bylaws and other regulations.

The forum, involving the Waikato’s mayors and the regional council chair, asked South Waikato district’s CEO Craig Hobbs to develop this proposal into a more detailed business plan for the forum to consider.

“Better alignment of bylaws and other regulations could help iron out unnecessary inconsistencies, improving the efficiency of local government and the economy, whilst allowing local communities to still do things their way,” said forum chairman Hugh Vercoe, the mayor of Matamata-Piako.

“Elected councils will naturally want any new processes to reflect the needs and aspirations of their individual communities.”

The forum meeting, the last before next month’s elections, also heard progress reports on four previously reported joint work streams aimed at delivering multi-million savings to council operations across the region without sacrificing services.

These include looking at how councils can work together better on governance and planning, economic development, roading, and water and wastewater services.

“These work streams are progressing very well and the forum expects to be able to make some more detailed announcements, particularly in the area of economic development and planning, within the next few months,” said Mr Vercoe.

“We’re confident we’re going to be able to deliver some real efficiencies and cost savings as a result of this joined up work by the councils.”

The forum would ensure it provided briefing material on the work streams to all incoming mayors soon after the elections, while a general update for all councillors in the region is due to be held at Karapiro in November. This follows on from a similar mass briefing of councillors earlier this year.

“We want to ensure that all the region’s councillors stay well up to speed with what the forum is discussing and how the work streams being implemented by CEOs are progressing,” said Mr Vercoe.

Meanwhile, the forum had a discussion on planned job losses at AgResearch’s Hamilton campus and Mr Vercoe said members were disappointed for the region to be losing any positions.

“We understand AgResearch’s argument that re-locating positions elsewhere over a number of years will help boost AgResearch’s support to New Zealand Inc generally, particularly Waikato farmers.

“But it is always disappointing to see proposed job losses and we are hopeful that the work we’re doing on economic development in particular can help staunch any employment losses in our region and, in fact, boost economic activity.

“It’s also good to hear that AgResearch isn’t planning to leave Hamilton entirely and that various parties are working together on the idea of developing a Waikato agricultural research and education ‘hub’ that will help retain and attract jobs in this area.”