Familiar names submit on wards

It will be like a councillors' reunion when the Timaru District Council meets to consider representation today.

Of the more than 800 people and organisations who made submissions on the council's three ward/nine councillor proposal for next year's election, around 40 want to have their say in person. That list is liberally sprinkled with former councillors and staff, an ex-mayor, wannabe councillors and the odd heckler.

A day has been set aside to hear the 40 submitters, providing each with a 10-minute slot. Many of the names on the list will be familiar to councillors.

Starting off the day will be farmer Russell Scobie who makes a point of showing up at annual plan time to remind councillors what a lousy job he thinks they are doing - how the district doesn't need an aquatic centre, and how unfair the three bin rubbish system is. He has managed to work those themes into his representation submission in which he also reckons five councillors should be elected from the rural area and five from town.

By late morning councillors will know very well the views of the Geraldine community. Presenting submissions will be the Geraldine Community Board followed by Kerry Stevens, McGregor Simpson and Donald Aubrey, three of the four candidates in the forthcoming Geraldine ward by-election.

Re-acquainting themselves with the council chamber during the day will be former city engineer and district councillor Don Binney, former councillor Ian Bowan and the district's previous mayor, Wynne Raymond.

Pleasant Point and Temuka community boards will make their views known as will former Geraldine mayor and Timaru district councillor Jim Hopa.

Around 95 per cent of submitters favour nine councillors being elected to three wards - six to the Timaru ward, two to Pleasant Point - Temuka and one councillor to the Geraldine ward.

The most common reasons given for supporting the ward representation model were it retained a local voice, guaranteed geographical rural representation, provided better understanding of the local area by local people, and the fact that the system had worked well.

Those opposing the proposal either supported retaining the ward system but preferred some other combination of electoral options, or supported councillors being elected at large. The at-large system was also supported by those keen to retain the existing number of councillors, wanted the ability to vote for all councillors or wished to break down the rural/urban divide.

If council goes with the present proposal unchanged, then appeals to the Local Government Commission can only be made by those who submitted on the proposal. If the proposal is changed, anyone can appeal or object to it.

The Timaru Herald