Mayor 'gutted' at snub
Should councillors be elected 'at large'?
Timaru mayor Janie Annear is "gutted" her councillors have ignored the public's view, voting for the council to do away with wards and elect councillors at-large at next year's election.
Cr Pat Mulvey is less polite, accusing those voting for the at-large option of blatantly ignoring the public view to "push their own barrow".
As part of the six-yearly review of how it is elected, the council set up a consultation committee and then put three options to the public for comment.
What do you think of the council's decision to elect 10 councillors at large at next year's election? Have your say by contacting us by email: Rhonda Markby by 3pm today.
The consultation committee was not in favour of the at-large option, a view shared in more than 70 per cent of the 350-plus public submissions received.
However, councillors have voted 6-5 to go with the option of 10 councillors at large. That proposal now goes back to the public for further consultation.
In favour of the option were Crs Terry Kennedy (mover), Steve Earnshaw (seconder), Tracy Tierney, Hamish Fraser, Jo Taylor and Jane Coughlan.
"They did not listen to the advisory group. Overwhelmingly the community did not support at-large through consultation, saying it did not serve our community well," Mrs Annear said.
"I am really disappointed, especially as the Timaru ward councillors claim we are all big enough now that we do not need a ward system. That is their Timaru city view on it, whereas the people from our smaller towns and rural areas are saying to them, ‘no, we want to be represented'. Those of us who did not support this motion felt the people had told us very, very clearly that it was important to them that rural areas were represented around the council table and I personally, as mayor, feel it is imperative that they are there."
She could not understand how councillors could favour the at-large option, and also state community boards were important and should be retained.
"Yes, community boards are really important, but so is a voice around the decisionmaking table.
"I think it so important, so I am gutted because I feel that city councillors have gone against their colleagues who represent the other areas. It is not a done deal by any means."
Asked why people should bother to make further submissions in light of the council decision, Mrs Annear said five councillors were listening.
"I think this decision is really going to ignite the rural and smaller town communities. I think it is really important that they come to council and present their views.
"The community has told us that at-large is not in their best interest, so we know what will happen now. There will be an appeal [to the Local Government Commission] - and they can do anything they want," she said, referring to the way Mackenzie District Council's membership was cut by the commission when an appeal was lodged.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Names on council voting papers should be listed:Related story: Council to decide on voting papers