Representation under scrutiny

The fate of how Southland district ratepayers will be represented rests with the Local Government Commission after the council received five appeals to its final representative proposal.

In October, Southland district councillors voted to change from 12 wards and 12 councillors, to five wards and 12 councillors to meet the requirements of the Local Electoral Act.

Council chief executive David Adamson said the council had been consulting with ratepayers and residents this year on how they wanted to be represented by councillors and community boards and community development area subcommittees.

''Many wanted to stay with the status quo of 12 councillors elected in individual wards and a mayor, with 12 community boards and 16 CDAs (community development areas),'' Mr Adamson said.

The final proposal was to create five wards with multiple councillors -Mararoa-Waimea (3 councillors), Waiau-Aparima (3 councillors), Winton-Wallacetown (3 councillors), Waihopai-Toetoes (2 councillors) and Stewart Island-Rakiura (1 councillor).

There would be eight community boards - Te Anau, Tuatapere, Otautau, Riverton, Wallacetown, Winton, Stewart Island and Edendale-Wyndham, with 19 CDAs.

However, six appeals from Federated Farmers, Alan Leitch, John Hogg, Nightcaps CDA and Edward Blackburn were received by the deadline of 4pm today and council will now forward these to the Local Government Commission, Mr Adamson said.

Federated Farmers Southland local government spokesman Doug Fraser said Federated Farmers wanted to reduce the number of councillors to six, including the mayor.

Under the current system, not all ratepayers were fairly represented, he said.

He said Federated Farmers were disappointed the council did not include its model as an option in the representation review.

''We feel fewer individual councillors and more representation through community boards would lead to better outcomes for Southland District ratepayers.''

''That is why we are taking our concerns to the commission,'' Mr Fraser said.

The commission will make a decision by April 11 for the local government elections in October.

The Southland Times