City is late for ward system rework
Palmerston North could join a small but growing number of councils that have abandoned wards.
That could happen if the council adopts a proposal from its planning and policy committee at the end of the month and the plan survives a round of formal consultation and possible appeals.
Since 1989, nine of New Zealand's district and city councils have changed from a ward system to electing councillors at large.
They are Wanganui, Rotorua, Kawerau, Wairoa, Nelson, Upper Hutt, Kaikoura, Invercargill and the Chatham Islands.
"By far the majority still have wards, but there has been a gradual increase in those that do not," Local Government Commission chief executive Donald Riezebos said.
Timaru and Hamilton, like Palmerston North, are planning to abolish wards in this round of reviews.
A handful of councils, Kapiti, Masterton, Tauranga and Gore, have a mix of wards and at-large voting.
At present, 53 of New Zealand's 78 councils are reviewing their representation arrangements for the 2013 elections, and the deadline for them to come up with an initial proposal for public consultation is the end of the month.
Palmerston North is among the last of eight still to do so.
Legal counsel John Annabell said the late start was planned to take account of the views of former Manawatu ratepayers who joined the city as part of the boundary change that took effect at the beginning of July.
Fourteen councils had completed the process, while appeals against Porirua's plans were being heard this week.
Mr Riezebos expected as many as 20 to 25 plans would go to appeal.
Palmerston North's last attempt to abolish wards in 2006 was overturned on appeal.
The commission has to make determinations on all of the representation reviews appealed by April 10 next year in order to have arrangements in place for the 2013 elections.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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