Local Authority Community Boards
Today's update....Levin once had a vibrant Borough Council. It was abolished and The Horowhenua District Council took over all its duties and responsibilities.The same sort of reorganisation happened all over New Zealand. While it was logical and sensible to amalgamate borough councils in cities, where farmland between boroughs had been built on and a street's houses could be in two boroughs, distinct, vast farmland surrounded, boroughs were best left. It was monstrous that Levin was deprived of a home based decision making structure and a system of centralised control inflicted on the town.
The same changes occured for other New Zealand towns, but many of these have community boards with delegated authority to run much of their own affairs. This was the community orientated promise of the nationwide reoranisation, but Levin was treated as a town not fit to exist in its own right and left to the abuse of out of town councillors who, in some cases are from where they have their own community board, yet help run a town without one. It's sad. Foxton Community Board decides if public trees are to be cut wereas, Levin has theirs cut at will, based on a young council officer's wishes, not the public's, unless newspapers campaign for trees to be saved if they publish details in time. That sort of make shift community involvement in local government is avoided in Foxton by their Community Board deciding issues to be finally approved by the full District Council. That's not as good as a community board with the final say, but necessary when community boards are not enjoyed by every town in a district.
Levin has a shocking case of community input being trampled on in the incredible situation at Kowhai Park at the west end of Queen Street. A project to develop a wetland from a natural piped spring has been stalled, midway, for over three years. The area is fenced off with temporary bright orange netting and piles of dirt are regularly weed sprayed for an industrial area, junk yard appearance. It's illogical to deprive residents of a completed park, who pay for a council to normally keep their facilites in top condition at all times. The problem is said to be over a Historic Places Trust disputes procedure. There's disagreement over the terms of the construction process to develop the wetland, where suspected or proven historic sites might be disturbed.
Had a community board been given to Levin, all interested parties would have had a say in the proposed wetland's planning and construction details. However, when the writer raised this need at a meeting to decide upon Horowhenua District community boards, Mayor Brendon Duffy strongly rejected the need for Levin to be served by community board public input. Levin still has to suffer the indignity of having its public areas controlled in a dictatorial fashion. There wasn't, for instance, full public consultation for the Western Park Petanque Court development, or the decision to let the grass grow, in the rest of it, to knee high, over six months.
Levin's sewage works' future location is to be decided by a panel chosen by the Mayor and Councillors, whereas, in Foxton, any such planning would involve the publicly voted in, Foxton Community Board, should Foxton's sewage treatment system need upgrading.
The solution is for Levin to have a Community Board from a voting age citizen's poll, as described in the article below, in blue lettering. However, if a Council rejects the petition, the Local Government Act 1974 allows for the Local Government Commission to run the community board for up to 3 years. There is thus a guarantee to citizens, irrespective of what the district council might think, as laid down in Section 7 of Schedule 6 of the Act, as follows:-
Appeal against refusal to constitute community
(1) If, following a proposal to constitute a community, a territorial authority resolves not to constitute a community, a signatory to the proposal may appeal to the Commission.
(2) The Commission has all the powers of the territorial authority in respect of the constitution of the community, and may determine the functions of the community board for a period of up to 3 years.
(3) Nothing in subclause (2) prevents the territorial authority from conferring further responsibilities on the community board.
Levin would only need to obtain about 1700 signatures and details on a poll to bring about the official Community of Levin in legal terms, which must then have a community board.
An example below, in red lettering added by LMS, of community board run affairs
under delegated authority.
It's time we had this sort of local government in Levin.
It's absurd that Foxton has a community board, while the larger Levin ward area hasn't, yet Foxton Councillors vote on Levin issues without the filtration effect of a community board.
Levin Flowering Trees in Bloom