Support for Southland wards rejig 'strong'
A proposal to change the Southland District Council's representation system has been supported by submissions, the council says.
At a meeting in August, most district councillors supported changing the number of wards from 12 to five - going from one councillor per ward to three councillors each for three wards, two councillors for one ward, and retaining a sole councillor for the Rakiura ward.
The proposal also reduces the number of community boards, from 12 to seven, with community development area subcommittees rising from 16 to 20.
Submissions on the proposal closed on Tuesday.
Yesterday council policy and planning manager Susan Cuthbert said 47 submissions had been received, however, that figure was not final as more would come in from area offices.
Most submissions supported the proposal, she said.
"There's strong support for the initial proposal, strong support for the five-ward, 12-councillor option," she said.
However, some submitters were concerned at having multiple councillors per ward, while there was a "fairly even split" between those favouring further amalgamation of community boards and community development area subcommittees and those who wanted to retain those already in place, Ms Cuthbert said.
The review caused much debate around the council table.
In August, Southland District Mayor Frana Cardno and Wallace ward councillor Stuart Baird and Waihopai ward councillor Wally Jack raised fears the voices of smaller communities could be lost if the changes were adopted.
Under the Local Electoral Act, councils must review their representation every six years, and each elected member must represent the same number of people, plus or minus 10 per cent - which only two existing wards, Riverton and Wallacetown, comply with.
If the council's representation system did not comply, it could be appealed against and a final decision made by the Local Government Commission.
Ms Cuthbert said submissions would be made public before hearings were held on October 15 and 16. The council would publish its final proposal in early November.
The public would then be able to lodge an appeal or objection.
If the changes went ahead, they would be in place in time for the next local government elections, in October next year, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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