Marlborough Mayor, John Leggett has presented the region’s submission to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on the Water Services Entities Bill on behalf of Marlborough District Council in an online call.
Mayor Leggett said he was disappointed not to be able to make his submission to the committee in person as originally planned.
“Unfortunately the rescheduling of the hearings by the Select Committee and the response to the recent weather event which was unfolding at the same time, meant travel to Wellington on the day of my allocated speaking slot wasn’t possible,” said Mayor Leggett.
In making his submission to the committee from Blenheim via Zoom, Mayor Leggett said it was important to the Council that it fully participated in the process.
“Council has taken steps to remain informed of the three waters proposal, especially over the last three years, so that we can respond to our community in a very balanced and informed way,” he said.
Mayor Leggett told the committee that Council accepts the country’s three waters sector faces significant challenges, and that the case for change is well understood.
“We can’t keep kicking the can down the road on this issue but the Government’s proposal is not the right one,” he said
“I emphasised that the Government’s proposal to create four new mega water entities that will take water services delivery from councils is not seen as an acceptable solution. We do not accept that a one size fits all mega-entity structure will deliver results for our community,” Mayor Leggett said.
“I also underlined that the boundary issue is a particular sticking point in the Government’s proposal, with Councils in the top of the South Island already expressing concern about the potential impact of Tasman and Marlborough communities being split into different entities.”
Similarly it makes no practical sense for Seddon’s water scheme to be managed by Entity D, as is currently proposed, when Blenheim, located 20km away, will be managed by Entity C, the Mayor said.
“How can this lead to better drinking water quality and better environmental outcomes?”
Mayor Leggett spoke of the impact of representation if Marlborough is to be one of either 21 territorial authorities to make up Entity C, or one of 23 included in Entity D as proposed.
“Such representation uncertainty is unacceptable given the importance of three waters to the regional environment, health, economy, and community generally,” he said. “How will our needs be prioritised when we are compared, for example, with the likes of Wellington in Entity C and Christchurch in Entity D?”
During his submission, Mayor Leggett highlighted the importance of Council’s three waters, rivers and roading teams in response to most emergencies, particularly climatic events like those the region has recently experienced.
“Shifting governance, management and control to another entity not located in Marlborough could severely impact our ability to respond effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Mayor Leggett said Council’s submission is to push the pause button on this reform.
“In our view this proposal requires a lot more work and alternatives need to be explored. If these reforms are to be intergenerational and transformational as claimed, they should speak for themselves – instead all they have done is divide local government and angered many in our community,” he said.
You can watch Mayor Leggett’s oral submission to the Water Services Entities Bill Select Committee at: www.marlborough.govt.nz/your-council/three-waters-reform-proposals.