Boards challenge council’s dismantling move

BY STEVE EDWARDS
Last updated 15:26 27/11/2012

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The fate of community boards in the district is in the hands of the Local Government Commission.

 

A Matamata-Piako District Council move to dis-establish the three boards - Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha - drew six appeals which will be heard by the commission in Te Aroha on December 7.

 

In its proposal, the council said its 12 elected members provide ''sufficient and effective'' representation of the district.

 

It said ward councillors are advocates for ward interests and accessible to the community.

 

The council believes there is also a duplication of roles; excessive delegation to boards is not necessary; ward councillors are able to undertake board functions; and the district is geographically compact.

 

Appeals have been lodged by the three boards, along with Keep Morrinsville Beautiful and Te Aroha's Wolfgang Goldbach-Faber and Noel Harvey-Webb.

 

Morrinsville Community Board believes it is an advocate for its community, involved and focused on the area's issues.

 

Its Te Aroha counterpart said it was elected by the community ''to be there to listen to their concerns, to help where we can''.

 

Keep Morrinsville Beautiful said the council is ''not communicating with its ratepayers, nor was it representing the views of its constituents and citizens who were relying on community boards to reflect the wishes and opinions of the communities in the district''.

 

In his appeal, Mr Goldbach-Faber said the principle of representation is vital for democracy.

 

He questioned whether the council has the capacity, ability and willingness to represent the community and its groups satisfactorily.

 

Mr Harvey-Webb would like to see community board responsibilities expanded, as has happened in Thames-Coromandel district.

 

''The desire to control rather than facilitate has blocked many proposals (in Matamata-Piako), including some with significant community support and requiring little or no council planning or expenditure,'' he said.

 

Mayor Hugh Vercoe will represent the council at the hearing, which is open to the public.

 

The three-person commission is led by former Hauraki District Mayor Basil Morrison.

 

A decision must be made by April 11.

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