Councils await election direction

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 14/12/2012

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Palmerston North and Rangitikei could be the last councils in the country to sort out how their representatives will be elected in next year's local body elections.

After earlier proposing the abolition of wards, the city council decided to keep them in response to public submissions.

However, four appeals and two objections have been lodged against the decision so far, meaning the Local Government Commission will make the final ruling.

The period for appeals and objections ends on Thursday for both Palmerston North and Rangitikei. The commission is likely to hold a public hearing in the city in late February.

City council legal counsel John Annabell said three of the appeals received so far advocated a return to city-wide voting, while a fourth proposed a different arrangement of wards.

Two objectors had been asked to provide more information about their cases to ensure the commission would consider them.

Commission chief executive Donald Riezebos said 25 councils around New Zealand had completed representation reviews without appeals, and the commission had held hearings for another six, issued decisions on three, and there were another 11 yet to be heard.

One of those is the Horowhenua District Council, where appeals will be heard next week. One of the key issues was the future of the Foxton Community Board, which the council had proposed to abolish, but was convinced to retain.

The Rangitikei District Council had proposed scrapping the Taihape and Ratana community boards in favour of more cost-effective community committees, but kept them in light of strong public support.

The reason Palmerston North was so late out of the blocks was it needed to wait until the July 1 boundary change came into effect so ratepayer views could be considered.

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- Manawatu Standard

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