Worrying implication for property rights as Government forces through Three Waters reform – C4LD

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Communities 4 Local Democracy (C4LD) He hapori mō te Manapori , says Government plans to force through water reforms, virtually unchanged, is a worrying attack on property rights and community voice.

C4LD said yesterday following the Government’s announcement on Three Waters Reform, the changes embedded an unusual public shareholding model, where shareholders would have no rights other than the ability to decide whether or not to privatise services.

The reforms also proposed another level of complexity in governance, taking most councils even further away from a position of influence’

C4LD Chair and Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys said tinkering around the edges of the proposal had not made the model any more palatable for communities.

“Adding a Claytons shareholding for councils, that confers none of the normal benefits or obligations of ownership, does nothing to remove our real worries about community property rights and local voice,” Ms Worboys said.

“For us to hand over millions of dollars of assets our communities have paid for, in return for a single share of no real value, is absolutely absurd.

“If the Government can decide by decree to redefine ownership in this way, it sets a worrying precedent over ownership on a far wider basis.”

“This is a dark day for local democracy as the Government has continued to force this reform through without the consent of its stakeholders or their communities.

“We could not be more disappointed that the Government has rejected an opportunity to reach a bi-partisan agreement that would deliver what they wanted, instead electing to press on with their reforms based on faulty assumptions and flawed analysis.

The group has also condemned the “further watering down” of community input, which will particularly effect small councils.

“The model was already significantly flawed in denying any real influence from councils. With the new sub-regional groups it’s likely the voice and influence of smaller councils will be even more diluted,” she said.

“These changes will see many councils moved from being two steps away from the decision makers – to three.

the outcomes of the reform can be delivered while ensuring the efficiencies of collaboration and balance sheet separation, but while still protecting local voice and community property rights.”

Ms Worboys said while disappointed in this initial version of the legislation, C4LD was committed to working to get a better model in place that worked for everyone.

“We’d urge everyone to get in touch with their local MPs to ensure they know what you think about this plan, and we’ll be encouraging significant local participation in the select committee process.”

For more information about Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mo te Manapori, and its framework for better three waters reform that everyone can support, visit communities4localdemocracy.co.nz/ideas.