Changes to the Local Government Act could pave the way for the local councils to be amalgamated into a Taranaki supercouncil.
The Stratford council last week decided to make a submission on the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill 2012 to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, and mayor Neil Volzke says it will insist that any proposed changes to local government ensure that local identity and local voice is protected.
The law currently guarantees residents the automatic right to a poll to approve or reject any proposal for reorganisation of their council. The council says this democratic right is taken away under the new bill and urges recidents to make their voice heard on the issue.
``In our view a poll should be mandatory,'' says Neil.
Under the proposed changes, the only way a poll can occur is if signatures from 10 per cent of the electors in the total area affected are collected within 40 days of a final proposal being issued by the Local Government commission.
The council said the short timeframe effectively reduces the possibility of a poll and once started it will be be very difficult to stop the process.
``''It doesn't require the council or ratepayers to start amalgamation. The Taranaki Chamber of Commerce has indicated its intend to do just that.''
Stratford suggested signatures be reduced to five per cent and the timeframe stretched to 80 days.
In its submission the council said it punched far above its weight of being the tenth smallest council in New Zealand and that its size gives the council significant advantages over larger units.
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