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Three Waters reform was front and centre as Groundswell NZ launched a series of public meetings opposing the Government regulations.

There was standing room only at the first meeting held in Alexandra on Monday night.

Almost 200 people packed into the Alexandra Memorial Hall to hear from the organisation and keynote speaker, former broadcaster and New Zealand Tax Payers’ Union board member Peter Williams.

Groundswell NZ co-founder Laurie Paterson said the organisation was concerned about the ‘‘loss of local democracy’’.

‘‘It’s the fact that the big central government really is taking the assets off the local government people that were elected to run their local areas and really, well, it’s bullying, isn’t it.’’

‘‘They’re like the big kid in the playground and they don’t seem to want to listen to any common sense about anything — they just want to take those Three Waters assets and turn them into a great bureaucracy which is cost, cost, cost.’’

Groundswell NZ Three Waters spokesman Logan Evans addressed the crowd along with Taxpayers’ Union executive director and founder Jordan Williams, outlining the concerns the organisations had about Three Waters — higher water costs, unnecessary bureaucracy, lack of local control and an undemocratic consultation process.

A pre-recorded message of Invercargill deputy mayor Nobby Clark speaking against the reforms was also aired.

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan was invited to speak on the district council’s position on Three Waters, although the reception he received was less than friendly.

Mr Cadogan addressed the hecklers, saying he took the position it was better to remain in the conversation rather than not have a say in how the reforms affected the region.

The Groundswell NZ public meetings continued throughout the South this week, with the final one in held in Invercargill tonight, before heading to the North Island.