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Waikato Mayoral Forum elects new chair

Alan Livingston has been elected chair of the Waikato Mayoral Forum, which includes mayors and the regional council chair.

Mr Livingston, a former mayor of Waipa District and the current chair of the regional council, was elected unopposed at the forum’s last meeting of 2016, held today.

The forum is designed as an informal gathering of council leaders to share ideas and look at how councils can best work together. All decisions on individual councils’ involvement in, and spending on, joint workstreams are left with those councils.

Following his election, Mr Livingston said such teamwork amongst the region’s councils was essential and, in particular, had helped advance transport projects like the Waikato Expressway, the Kopu Bridge and East Taupo arterial route. Work through the jointly owned Waikato Local Authority Shared Services Ltd operation had also delivered a wide range of mutual benefits.

“We are in a competitive environment nationally and it’s essential we work co-operatively on strengthening our region by responding to opportunities and meeting challenges together,” Mr Livingston said.

He paid tribute to the outgoing chair Allan Sanson of Waikato District who he said had worked very hard on behalf of the region during the last council term, and will continue playing a part in the forum.

Waitomo’s mayor Brian Hanna was elected unopposed as the forum’s deputy chair.

The forum will examine its future role now that some workstreams, such as joint planning and economic development, are now operating independently. These two areas are now guided by, respectively, the Waikato Plan joint committee and the Waikato Means Business implementation strategy.

“It’s a situation from here of looking to identify opportunities and see where the forum can best focus its efforts,” said Mr Livingston.

Meanwhile, the forum agreed that the two local government representatives on the Waikato Means Business steering group would be the regional council’s Bob Simcock, a former Hamilton mayor and the current DHB chair, and Gray Baldwin from South Waikato district, a farmer with extensive business and governance experience. It was felt Mr Simcock and Mr Baldwin would bring, respectively, an urban and rural perspective to the steering group.

Mr Livingston noted that it was important for Hamilton City Council to continue having a strong voice in Waikato Means Business and that this will be provided through the involvement of Hamilton CEO Richard Briggs with the project.

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