Pleasant Point to fight TDC
Public meeting to discuss ward issueRHONDA MARKBY
The Pleasant Point community does not want to lose its council representation, and made that clear to Timaru district councillors at a public meeting in the town last night.
About 75 people attended the meeting called by Federated Farmers' Pleasant Point branch to discuss the district council's decision to go with 10 councillors elected at large at next year's election.
The meeting was advertised before Pleasant Point ward councillor Richard Lyon lodged a notice of motion which will attempt to have the at-large option overturned at Tuesday's meeting, in favour of councillors being elected through wards. Those at last night's meeting were encouraged to attend Tuesday's meeting.
Mayor Janie Annear and all councillors except Cr Tracy Tierney, who is on leave, were at last night's meeting and addressed the crowd.
While he was there to listen as well as to speak, Cr Lyon told the meeting the issue of representation at-large or through the present ward system was not about personalities and the present councillors, but rather how the rural areas would be represented in the future if councillors were elected at large.
"The public never asked for the at-large option . . . it is all about fairness."
Cr Lyon suggested the community had experienced similar pressure in the past, when it lost its high school.
"It was foisted on us and no matter what you are promised you never get it back. You need to fight for what you want now."
Other councillors reiterated their reasons for voting the way they had. Pleasant Point resident and Timaru ward councillor Jo Taylor questioned why the community should not vote for its council at large when it did for the mayor and the district health board.
She assured the meeting her views could be swayed by the public submission process.
Twenty-three years ago the Pleasant Point community was promised it would be represented under the amalgamation which saw it become part of the Timaru District, Mrs Annear reminded the meeting.
At the same time she acknowledged democracy was not perfect, and questioned how those from the rural areas could expect to get on to council if they were elected at large.
She questioned whether she would have been elected under such a system as she might not have had a high enough profile.
"These communities of interest need to be represented, that's the bottom line."
Pleasant Point Community Board member Neville Gould suggested "democracy didn't listen" to the submitters who wanted the ward system retained, and questioned whether it would be any different if people submitted on the council's preferred option over the coming weeks.
Geoff Smith did not doubt councillors had the interests of the community at heart, but the wards still needed representation.
When asked for a show of hands of those wanting the ward system retained, only some councillors and a handful of others disagreed.
Federated Farmers branch chairman Mark Jackson said he was very happy with the turnout and the opportunity for some "good community discussion".
"I would have been happy if six people had turned up."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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