Speaking rights to be mooted

Kerry Stevens
Kerry Stevens

A proposed amendment could stop councillors feeling like "silent witnesses" at community board meetings.

Geraldine ward councillor Kerry Stevens has proposed offering councillors speaking rights at community board meetings.

"For many years, councillors attending community board meetings have been essentially silent witnesses as they do not have the right to speak," he said.

"It seems a strange situation - it means they might not be able to offer their opinion on something which was within their expertise."

Mr Stevens said his proposal would not allow visiting councillors voting rights, but "at least they would be able to contribute".

The council granted the community board members speaking rights at council meetings in 2012, in the wake of its representation review.

"The current situation is clearly lop-sided but could be easily dealt with," Mr Stevens said.

"While the board members would have a better idea of what goes on in the community, the councillors could provide a broader view of the situation. It makes sense to hear it before the board votes, rather than have them discuss it afterwards over a cup of tea."

As Geraldine ward councillor, Mr Stevens has voting rights at his local community board meeting. However, visiting Timaru, Pleasant Point and Temuka ward councillors do not even have speaking rights at Geraldine community board meetings.

Mr Stevens said the community board meetings could be longer as a result of allowing councillors to have speaking rights. But he felt it was worth it if the proposal "improved relationships".

The Geraldine community board members will debate Mr Stevens' proposal at Wednesday's meeting.

The Timaru Herald