ORC favours retention of well-beings

Fuseworks Ltd.

The Otago Regional Council sees no justification for changing the current purpose of local government by removing the four community well-beings which currently underpin the Local Government Act, ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead says.

"We believe the current purpose statement: 'To promote the social, economic, cultural, and environmental wellbeing of our region' reflects local government's role appropriately," Mr Woodhead said

The proposed change is part of the Local Government Act Amendment Bill. It would require councils to meet a cost-effectiveness test when making decisions about local infrastructure, local public services, and regulatory functions.

If this became law, councils would be at greater risk of having their decisions' cost-effectiveness challenged in court, Mr Woodhead said.

"Making short-term decisions which affect the community, based simply on whether they can be delivered for the lowest possible cost may not be prudent, and may hamper our ability to make sound decisions that are sustainable over the long-term," he said.

Councils throughout the country were responsible for much of the major infrastructure that people depended on for their livelihood and quality of life.

They needed processes that enabled them to be both prudent and productive in managing and developing the assets their communities needed to prosper, Mr Woodhead said.

"The proposed change to the purpose statement has been poorly thought through and is simply not justified," he said.

ORC would be expressing these views in its submission on the bill.