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Published: 2013-11-25 00:00:00

Issued on behalf of Waikato Mayoral Forum
The Waikato Mayoral Forum has elected a new chair and been provided with updated information on joint work streams designed to deliver multi-million dollar savings for ratepayers and ramp up the regional economy.

The forum – which includes city and district mayors and the chair of the regional council – has elected Waikato District Council mayor Allan Sanson to be chair, replacing former Matamata-Piako mayor Hugh Vercoe, now a regional councillor. Waitomo District Council’s mayor Brian Hanna was elected forum deputy chair.

“I am strongly committed to working with my fellow council leaders on making a real difference for Waikato’s future,” said Mr Sanson.

“Collectively, we want to ensure we have the best arrangements in place to deliver on the potential for multi-million dollar savings and a significantly healthier economy. It’s by working together that we’ll deliver the best results.”

Today’s meeting also discussed the forum work streams covering local council co-operation over roading, water and waste water services, planning, and economic development.

Progress reports on this work said:

  • A business case would be developed by the end of the year for a joint “centre of excellence” in road asset management to help road asset managers make better decisions and deliver significant savings.
  • On water, a consultant is to consider the opportunities for greater cooperation identified in a recent report, test the financial and practical considerations, and pursue them if a business case is justified.
  • The first stage of a draft Waikato Plan process is programmed for completion by February 2014. Such a plan would in part be aimed at far greater co-ordination of council activities in the region to help squeeze out the costs of duplicating activities and services. Engagement with the wider community on the issues identified in the draft plan is due to start next year.
  • Work on developing a business-led draft economic strategy for the region is progressing well following the publication of a strategy discussion paper and workshops with the business sector and other stakeholders. A project governance group made up of business and political leaders is due to meet next month to consider the outcomes of consultation and feedback, and recommended changes to the strategy discussion paper.

“All this work augurs well for the Waikato’s collective future,” said Mr Sanson.

“Our collective task will be to make sure we take up opportunities and meet challenges in a joined up way to ensure the wider region flourishes as well as it can.”