An attempt to set up Hastings as the mover and shaker of council amalgamation in Hawke's Bay was thwarted by those preferring to wait until the regional prosperity study was completed at the end of this year.
Hastings District Council was asked to support holding a public forum on amalgamation, an idea put forward by Flaxmere ward councillor Jacoby Poulain, at its meeting yesterday.
"Local government reform and potential amalgamation is becoming an important issue. I believe that elected members in our district and region, as well as the public, should be able to be informed and kept up to date of developments in this area.
"I feel in the dark about the current situation and positions on amalgamation as there is little information being released from official council channels. A forum would allow information and positions to be brought into the light across the region."
Cr Poulain said she believed other issues the council had worked on were "infiltrated" by amalgamation, eluding to the recent representation review, which supported fewer councillors at next year's election.
"Having a forum would ring fence amalgamation and protect other issues from being infiltrated."
Deputy Mayor Cynthia Bowers, who led the representation review, said she wanted to make it clear amalgamation was not part of the work she had led this year.
"When amalgamation did get raised, it was by me in a position of a debate."
A majority of councillors said it was better to wait for the second part of the prosperity study, expected to be completed before Christmas, before having a forum. The council was also aware that lobby group A Better Hawke's Bay promised to hand in a proposal for amalgamation following the Local Government Reforms, expected to be enacted next week.
"I think we have to get all of the information on the table and the second stage of the prosperity report will do that. To pre-empt this with a forum in my view is putting the cart before the horse," Cr Kevin Watkins said.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule also said he could not support a forum while the prosperity study was incomplete, local government reforms yet to be approved and a possible proposal by A Better Hawke's Bay on the cards.
"I personally think we should not be leading this right now."
Cr Wayne Bradshaw said Hastings was already leading the amalgamation charge because of Mr Yule's 2009 declaration that he would stand one last time and campaign to merge the region's councils.
"The real issue is voter participation and last time around 42 per cent of the public turned out to vote," Cr Bradshaw said.
Mr Yule said he "stood by my mantra" but the Hastings council had not formally passed a decision asking for amalgamation.
Councillors voted 10 to five against Cr Poulain's proposal.