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Pushing merger may open chasm between councils
By DIANE JOYCE
Amalgamation, no thanks: Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott
An investigation into the amalga-
mation of Hawke s Bay s councils
will go ahead, even if Hastings
mayor Lawrence Yule has to raise
the cash privately to pay for it.
Napier mayor Barbara Arnott
says if Mr Yule keeps pushing for
amalgamation he risks the two
councils falling out, wrecking the
collaboration and co-operation
built up between them over the
last 10 years.
If I was Hastings I d want to
take over Napier too. We have
such fabulous finances. It would
be too easy to strip all Napier s
assets and spend the proceeds
across the region. That s the heart
of it for most people, Ms Arnott
said on Thursday.
While both councils had similar
value fixed assets, Hastings had
current debt of $61 million
against Napier s $4m. And Napier
had the advantage of holding
assets that raised income, particu-
larly leasehold land in Ahuriri.
Napier City Council had
already said it would not put
money into any amalgamation
investigation. Hawke s Bay
Regional Council had money
available but had yet to decide
whether to contribute, while Hast-
ings had committed $50,000.
Mr Yule said he had raised pri-
vate funds, including from Napier
residents, to run a poll on the
issue showing there was a
willingness to investigate
In May, 500 Napier residents
were asked if they were for or
against amalgamation. The
results were close: 46 per cent
opposed; 39 per cent supportive;
13 per cent neutral; two per cent
unsure/refused to answer.
Mr Yule and private backers,
including himself, had paid for a
company to carry out the survey.
He said the number of contribu-
tors, could be counted on one
hand , and some were from
Napier. They had all asked that
their names be kept confidential.
Names had been suggested on
the rumour mill, but those contac-
ted were either non-committal or
could not be reached.
Rodney Green, Napier entre-
preneur and philanthropist,
refused to comment on whether he
helped pay for the poll, but said a
discussion needed to be had.
I m not really sure where I sit
. . .Iamsurethatithastobe
what s best for the residents, and
the politicians need to remember
that. The ratepayers are their
bosses, and it s about what s best
for the people.
He was not surprised the poll
backers were shy of publicity. His
peers were all talking about the
issue, but it could be divisive, he
They re nervous about making
statements about it. We all social-
ise together, and we don t want to
Mr Yule had expected differing
views in Napier, but had been
very surprised those in favour
were nervous about going public
with their opinions.
There needs to be a discussion.
It doesn t matter what I think, it s
what the people think. I can t for
the life of me see what s wrong
with that. You can t be too scared
to look at it.
He said his Napier poll sprung
from not being able to get a clear
picture of what ratepayers were
In discussions I ve had with
the regional council and the
Napier council, they re saying
nobody wants it, it s never come
up as an election issue .
But when I ve been out socially
with Napier people, they re saying
shouldn t we be looking at our
The only way of verifying that
was to run a poll to see what the
people think, Mr Yule said.
Ms Arnott said arguments that
Napier s assets and Hastings debt
could be ring-fenced were a fal-
You might be able to for three
years, even six years, but eventu-
ally it will all go into the same
She said Napier was preparing
its own report into the matter,
using information available.
We ve got feasibility studies for
Africa. We don t need another.
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his special needs classes.
Landkroon is holding the flag
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September after winning a big
cash prize in an online vote.
See story page 8
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